NFL | Ex-Jets wide receiver Don Maynard dies
Don Maynard, a professional Football Hall of Fame member whose impact was particularly felt on quarterback Joe Namath with the New York Jets in the now defunct American Football League (AFL), has passed away. He was 86 years old.
Hall of Fame leaders confirmed the news on Monday through his family.
With the Jets, Maynard was Namath’s go-to target, although a leg injury made him less effective in their astonishing triumph over the NFL champions Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl III in 1969.
This match established the credibility of AFL, known for its penchant for attack. However, Maynard had proven his worth long before.
After an unproductive season with the New York Giants in 1958, the lean and swift Texas native joined the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in the Canadian Football League in 1959.
Then the AFL was formed and he was the first player to sign a contract with the New York Titans, who would quickly become the Jets.
Despite the presence of inefficient quarterbacks with the Titans / Jets, Maynard made his mark with two seasons of at least 1,000 passing yards.
And when Namath arrived in New York City in 1965 after signing a record-breaking contract and making headlines all over the world, one of the best airborne suits in the league had just seen the light of day.
Namath was particularly adept at making long passes, which matched Maynard’s skills. As the main receiver of « Broadway Joe, » Maynard had three seasons with gains of at least 1,200 passing yards in a four-year gap.
In Namath’s rookie season, he caught 14 touchdown passes, and had two more campaigns with at least 10 majors.
When he retired after a season with the St. Louis Cardinals, he was No. 1 in professional football history among wide receivers with 633 catches for 11,834 yards and 88 touchdowns.
He was elected to the Football Hall of Fame in 1987.