Football

Legendary tight end Mackey dies

John Mackey, a Hall of Fame tight end for the Baltimore Colts who had battled dementia in recent years, has died. He was 69.

Chad Steele, a spokesman for the Baltimore Ravens, said Thursday that Mackey’s wife had notified the team about her husband’s death.

Mackey played for the Baltimore Colts from 1963 to 1971. He also played for the San Diego Chargers in 1972. He caught 331 passes for 5,236 yards and 38 touchdowns in a 10-season career.

After he retired, Mackey joined Mike Ditka as the first tight ends selected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. The John Mackey Award was established to honor the nation’s top college football tight end, and Syracuse, his alma mater, retired his number in 2007.

A NFL labor agreement ratified in 2006 includes the so-called “88 plan,” named for Mackey’s number, 88. It provides up to $88,000 a year for nursing care or day care for ex-players with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, or $50,000 for home care.

COLLINS RETIREMENT MAY VAULT LOCKER

Quarterback Kerry Collins is retiring from the NFL after 16 seasons in the league, his agent announced.

In a statement, Collins said that he still has a desire to compete in games, but his commitment to preparation “has waned to a level that I feel is no longer adequate.”

Collins, 38, was facing free agency after his contract with the Tennessee Titans expired in March, although he said as recently as last month that he still wanted to play.

Tennessee has said that it plans to trade or release quarterback Vince Young, which would leave just this year’s eighth overall draft pick, former Washington star Jake Locker, and second-year player Rusty Smith, on the roster at the position.

Collins’ retirement could leave Locker as the Titans’ starter going into training camp if a veteran is not signed.

The fifth overall pick by the Carolina Panthers in the 1995 draft, Collins led his teams to the playoffs four times, including an NFC Championship game appearance after the 1996 regular season with the Panthers and a Super Bowl appearance with the New York Giants after the 2000 regular season.

TALKS ONGOING

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith took part in another long day of negotiations aimed at reaching a collective bargaining agreement, and negotiations are expected to spill into next week despite progress being made.

Talks will continue without U.S. District Judge Arthur Boylan, who has served as the mediator. He is scheduled to begin vacation on Saturday.

The two sides reportedly hope to have the framework of a deal in place by tonight.

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