Don Maynard, the Pro Football Hall of Fame receiver who won Super Bowl III with the New York Jets, died Monday, the Hall of Fame announced. He was 86.
Maynard starred primarily for the Jets over the course of his 16-year career, joining the organization as its first signee in 1960 when they were the New York Titans, a founding franchise of the AFL. Paired with fellow Hall of Famer Joe Namath, Maynard grew to be the quarterback’s most reliable target as the Jets offense developed into one of the most explosive of the 1960s.
“Our Pro Football Hall of Fame family mourns the passing of Don Maynard,” Hall of Fame president Jim Porter said in a statement. “He was a resilient man on and off the field — and someone that his teammates could always count on.”
A member of the 1968 Jets, the only team in franchise history to win a Super Bowl, Maynard didn’t record a single catch in New York’s historic 16-7 upset over the Baltimore Colts, opting more as a decoy for receiver George Sauer and ceding touches to tailbacks Matt Snell and Emerson Boozer. Instead, Maynard stood out in the game that got the Jets there, the AFL title game against the Oakland Raiders. The receiver caught six passes for 118 yards and two scores, including the 6-yard game-winner, in the historic 27-23 victory.
Maynard reached four AFL All-Star games and was named a first-team AFL All-Pro in 1969. He led the AFL in receiving TDs in 1965 with 14 scores and receiving in 1967 with 1,434 yards.
The Texas Western product began his career as a ninth-round pick of the New York Giants in 1957 and ended it with the St. Louis Cardinals in 1973. Maynard’s 633 career catches for 11,834 yards were both professional records at the time of his retirement. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1987.
One of only five Jets to have his number retired by the organization, Maynard will be remembered for ushering the nascent New York franchise into relevance and then prominence as part of one of the most significant clubs in the history of professional football.