Earlier today all of football nation, but in particular the Colts, received the sad news of John Mackey's death.
As the reports of his passing reached the commissioner's office, Roger Goodell took to twitter to honor his legacy.
Here are some of his tweets below:
John Mackey was one of the great leaders in NFL history, on & off the field. He was a Hall of Fame player who redefined his position"
"John was a courageous advocate for his fellow NFL players as head of the NFL Players Association. (cont)"
"John worked closely with our office on many issues through the years, including serving as the 1st president of the NFL Youth Football Fund"
"John never stopped fighting the good fight. Our thoughts are with Sylvia and the Mackey family on the loss of our good friend."
Not to diminish the commissioner's words, but the best way to celebrate Mackey is to do more to focus on player's safety. As the lockout battle looms, both sides should allow former players a stronger representation in the proceedings. Once play resumes, the league should do a better job of not only making sure that needless and malicious hits are avoided but that retirees are better taken care of as well. To know that Mackey died at the young age of 69 and spent several years suffering from Dementia is tragic. No individual and family should have to suffer through that.
Football is a dangerous sport. While I personally would like to see stricter punishment for illegal hits or hitting with the intent to injure, I respect the argument that football is a violent and hitting is part of the game.
What we should all agree on is that concussion tests should have stricter standards, retired players should get the best health care available, and that more of a focus should be placed on understanding the effects of brain trauma.
That is how Roger Goodell and the NFL can truly honor the great John Mackey and many others like him.