By Barney Blakeney
For many local football fans, Douglas MacArthur ‘Big Mackey’ Goodwin was an icon. Born in Charleston in 1942, Mackey as he was known to most, played high school football as a running back at Burke High School. He earned a prolific reputation as one of the local community’s most indomitable running backs and became Charleston’s first football player drafted into the National Football League. He died May 11. Many of those who knew him insisted The Chronicle carry his story.
As an unaccomplished sportswriter Big Mackey’s story as an athlete is unfamiliar to me. But as a Charlestonian who grew up on the peninsula Eastside Mackey’s reputation was a point of reference. Having grown up on the Eastside some 10 years after Mackey, I often walked in his shadow. In Columbia as a college student, older guys I’d meet would ask if I knew him. He’d distinguished himself statewide. At the mention of my origin on Charleston’s Eastside, Mackey’s name would come up.
After high school at Burke, Mackey played college football for Maryland State College (now the University of Maryland Eastern Shore). He was drafted by the Green Bay Packers in the 5th round of the 1965 NFL Draft, and drafted by the Buffalo Bills in the eleventh round of the 1965 AFL Draft. Hampered by knee problems, he only played two seasons – in 1966 for the Bills and in 1967 for the Atlanta Falcons. He signed in 1968 with the Baltimore Colts. By 1969 his professional football career was over.
The youngest of 11 kids born to Marion and Althea Goodwin, Mackey’s older brother Rev. Willis T. Goodwin distinguished himself among the most socially conscious Methodist ministers locally. Rev. Goodwin, a bulwark in the development of The Chronicle as a driving force in the local civil rights movement, often spoke fondly of his younger brother. The brothers shared the role of pathfinders to places others had yet to come.
After football he returned to South Carolina, taught math a few years before moving to New York to work as a construction manager for an older brother and later for another company. Ill health eventually tackled Mackey. A bad heart forced him into disability. Mackey received a heart transplant the same day of the 2001 terrorist airplane attack on the World Trade Center towers. It’s the day he said he’d always remember. For so many others his days playing football always will be remembered.