Hall of Famer and Jets big Don Maynard dies at age 86

Don Maynard, a Hall of Fame wide receiver who played in two of the most important games in NFL history – one for the Giants and one for the Jets – died at the age of 86 on Monday, his family told the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

The first of those games, the Giants’ 23-17 loss to the Colts in the 1958 NFL Championship Game, which came to be known as “The Greatest Game Ever Played,” came in Maynard’s rookie season.

He did not reach a pass that day.

The second, the Jets’ 16-7 victory over the Colts in Super Bowl III, came when he was an established star, two weeks before his 34th birthday.

Maynard also did not reach a pass that day. He served mostly as a double-team decoy when George Sauer caught eight balls at 133 yards.

Does not matter. By the time he finished, Maynard had 633 receptions for 11,834 yards and 88 touchdowns in 15 NFL seasons, all but the first and last with the Titans / Jets franchise. He remains the franchise manager in receptions (627), receiving yards (11,732) and receiving touchdowns (88).

“Everyone here in the Jets organization wants to send their deepest condolences to the Maynard family,” said Jets general manager Joe Douglas. “Jets legend and NFL legend, his performance will live on forever here.”

Hall of Fame President Jim Porter said in a statement: “Our Pro Football Hall of Fame family mourns the passing of Don Maynard. He was a robust man on and off the field – and one that his teammates could always count on. Hall of Fame Fame Fame will forever protect his legacy. “

Maynard grew up in Texas, with the lifelong twang to match, and played collegially in Rice and Texas Western as a two-way player and kick-back.

The Giants cut him off after a season and five passing receptions, and after he dampened – but recovered – the opening start of the ’58 title fight.

In 1959, he played for CFL’s Hamilton Tiger-Cats and caught a pass of 10 yards.

Still, he became the first player to sign with the Titans in the new American Football League, mostly thanks to fellow Texans and head coach Sammy Baugh’s familiarity with him from his college days.

Maynard was an instant hit with 72 catches for 1,265 yards in 1960. Accompanied by quarterback Joe Namath in 1965, he topped 1,200 yards in three of the next four years, including the 1968 championship season.

In the 1968 AFL title game in which the Jets defeated the Raiders, 27-23, Maynard had six catches on 118 yards and two touchdowns.

Maynard played for the Cardinals in 1973 and a season in the WFL in 1974 before retiring. He then went into the financial planning business of his home state of Texas.

Looking back on Super Bowl III during a SNY panel discussion in June 2019, Maynard said, “The guys I played with were dedicated to one thing, and that was trying to win the ball game. We had nothing else to do with it. evening.”

Then he remembered their famous socially active quarterback and jokingly added, “Well, Joe did.”

Maynard added: “If we did not win that match, we might as well not even go home. We were lucky. Everyone did their job. I do not think we had a mistake in the ball match.”

Maynard, who was a lifelong tea totaler, said he promised some teammates before Super Bowl III that if they “won the ball game,” he would join them for a drink.

“We won the ball game and a couple of guys came up to me and said, ‘Okay!’ “Maynard remembered in 2019.” And I said, ‘Well, I did not tell you what ball game!’ “

Maynard recalled a close-knit team that paid the price needed for their success. He said he would much rather be chewed out by coach Weeb Ewbank than let down a teammate.

Eventually, Maynard said, it all clicked, “and we ended up with a ring.”

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