Two of the most influential men in the National Football League, commissioner Roger Goodell and players’ association executive director DeMaurice Smith, are scheduled to speak at a memorial service Saturday for John Mackey, the former Baltimore Colt and Hall of Famer who passed away on July 6.
The 90-minute service, at the Cathedral of Mary Our Queen, 5200 N. Charles St., begins at 10:30 a.m. and is open to the public.
Mackey, 69, a rugged tight end and onetime head of the NFLPA, died of frontotemporal dementia following a 10-year struggle with the disease. His death occurred during a critical stage of the NFL labor negotiations, one reason why Mackey’s memorial service was deferred.
“We wanted [the lockout] to be settled, and people to be settled,” said Sylvia Mackey, his widow. “We also wanted time to pass, and for this to be a celebration, not a sorrowful occasion.
“I expect this to be a very dignified and praiseworthy tribute to John.”
The service will be conducted by both the Rev. Elijah Mackey, brother of the deceased, and the Rev. Joe Ehrmann, a former Colt defensive tackle who, like Mackey, played at Syracuse. Ehrmann officiated at the wedding of one of Mackey’s daughters several years ago.
Others expected to speak include Bill Curry, onetime Colt who succeeded Mackey as NFLPA president in 1973; Floyd Little, a Hall of Fame running back from Syracuse and a longtime friend of Mackey; Ed Garvey, executive director of the players’ union during Mackey’s tenure; and Kevin Mackey, son of the Hall of Famer.
“John was so other-centered, a remarkable man who led a remarkable life,” Ehrmann said. “Hopefully, his accomplishments will cause us all to evaluate ourselves and make new commitments to lead more impactful lives, and to make the world a better place. You have to live with the end in mind.”
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