Legendary New York Jets wide receiver Don Maynard, who famously teamed up with quarterback Joe Namath to lead the team to its first and only Super Bowl victory, died Monday, the Pro Football Hall of Fame announced. He was 86.
Hall of Fame president Jim Porter confirmed Maynard’s passing in a statement calling him a “resilient man” both on and off the field.
“Our Pro Football Hall of Fame family mourns the passing of Don Maynard,” Porter said. “He was a resilient man on and off the field — and someone that his teammates could always count on.”
After a successful career at Texas Western (now the University of Texas at El Paso), Maynard was drafted by the New York Giants in 1957 where he played just one season (1958) before being cut. He played the following season in the CFL.
Maynard became a part of history when he signed with the American Football League’s New York Titans in 1960, a team that would later change its name to the Jets. He rose to stardom when Namath joined the team in 1965, becoming one of his favorite targets.
Despite not recording a single catch in the Jets’ 17-6 win over the Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl III, Maynard shined in that season’s AFL title game over the Oakland Raiders, totaling six catches for 118 yards and two touchdowns, including the game-winning catch in the fourth quarter.
At the time of his retirement in 1973, Maynard was only one of five players to record 50 receptions or more totaling 1,000 yards in five different seasons across his 15-year career and he still holds the franchise record with 627 receptions for 11,732 and 88 touchdowns.
A two-time AFL First-team All-Pro and four-time AFL All-Star, Maynard is just one of five players to ever have his jersey (No.13.) retired by the Jets.
“Don was a great player,” Namath said during Maynard’s Hall of Fame enshrinement ceremony in 1987. “He made many of his teammates better football players. Don worked with 25 different quarterbacks throughout his career and he made most of us better football players.”