John Mackey’s passing at the far too young age of 69 gives us a chance to reflect on his legacy. For anyone under the age of 45, you won’t know much from personal experience. But ask anyone that played the game during his time or grew up watching him, and Mackey is the standard bearer for tight ends. He’s Tony Gonzales….but better. Antonio Gates…but better. Same for Ozzie Newsome, or Shannon Sharpe, or anyone else. Mackey revolutionized the position. Mike Ditka was the first tight end inducted into the Hall of Fame, and he said Mackey was the best….EVER! The NFL Network ranked tight ends several years ago, and Mackey was #1. He was big, and strong, and fast. He could block and catch, and boy could he run after the catch. If you didn’t see him play, don’t underestimate his greatness. He was the best.