Northern Arizona’s very own Pete Mandley stood at 5’10”, 190, setting all sorts of receiving and returning records for the school, parlaying it into an NFL career. Pete heard his name called in the second round of the 1984 draft, and initially was utilized by the Lions as a kick returner. In 1985 he’d switch primarily to punt returns where he found his niche. One of the more formidable returners in the league, Pete had 403 yards on 38 returns and a touchdown. Mandley nearly duplicated those numbers again in 1986, with 43 returns for 420 yards and a touchdown. Pete then became the team’s primary receiver in 1987 pulling in 58 receptions for 720 yards and 7 touchdowns (- the most for a Lions receiver since 1968,) and again duplicated the feat leading the team in catches with 44 for 617 yards and 4 tds. For Pete’s efforts in 1987 he was named a Pro Bowl alternate. With Plan B in full swing, Mandley signed with the Kansas City Chiefs in 1989. In 12 games he had 35 catches for 476 yards and a TD, before a largely forgettable 1990.
Sitting out a season, Pete attempted to reinvigorate his career by signing with the WLAF. Picked up by the Montreal Machine in 1992, Pete would put on a clinic for the young franchise setting marks across the board in receiving, punt returning, and yards from scrimmage. His presence certainly helped stabilize young quarterback Michael Proctor, as Pete had 45 receptions for 605 yards and 4 touchdowns. Mandley would almost spoil the Riders 1992 season opener with a devastating punt return for a touchdown in the 4th quarter, but the Riders managed to pull the game out. He’d finish the season with 16 returns for 150 yards, a 9.4 average and a TD. Despite accounting for the majority of the Machine’s offensive firepower, Pete did not find himself on the All World squad.
I only had Mandley’s ProSet 1989 card, but Ultimate and Wild Card aggressively made cards of his that were not released until after the season opener. Still Pete recognized me as a fan, smiled, and signed my Lions card. After retiring from pro football, Mandley struggled with leaving it behind and even resented the sport, but over the years has rekindled the fire and interest he’s had in it. In 1993, Pete was inducted into the Northern Arizona Lumberjacks Hall of Fame. He is also an entrepreneur, and owns numerous businesses in the Phoenix area. Mandley’s family is notable as they avoided tragedy when one of their young children took ill and prevented them from boarding Northwest plane flight 255, which crashed and killed all but one, in 1987.
In 2010, I attempted, not once, but twice to get Pete’s autograph. There’s only one person in Arizona with the name of Pete Mandley. My first attempt at sending through the mail was RTS. I then attempted a second address I had on file, but since it has been pending since 2010- I am assuming that at this time, it is a failure. I may again try him at a later date if I get another address. Below are Pete’s statistics:
NFL Rec 172 Yds 2370 Avg 13.8 Td 12 Lg 56
Kr 35 Yds 630 Avg 18.0 Td 0 Lg 37 | Pr 162 Yds 1511 Avg 9.3 Td 2 Lg 81t
WLAF Rec 45 Yds 605 Avg 13.4 Td 4 Lg 61
Kr 7 Yds 103 Avg 14.7 Td 0 Lg 22 | Pr 16 Yds 150 Avg 9.4 Td 1 Lg 73t