He was the finest receiver in Jets historical past, the slender, lightning-rapid, humble country boy with the sideburns and the cowboy boots from El Paso, and with no him, there would have been no Joe Namath Super Bowl III Promise.
Namath and the Jets wanted a landing in the fourth quarter of the 1968 AFL Championship sport on an arctic, windy afternoon at Shea Stadium against the ferocious Oakland Raiders, and the Hall of Fame quarterback and his Hall of Fame receiver would get it for them, No. 12 receiving the football to No. 13, who handed away Monday at 86, when it mattered the most.
“Don Maynard experienced explained to me on the sideline that he could get a stage on the defense,” Namath informed NFL Movies many decades later, “anytime we desired it.”
The defender was George Atkinson, who had just produced the interception that gave the Raiders the direct. Namath launched a wind-aided rainbow and Maynard caught it more than his ideal shoulder for 52 yards. Then he caught the recreation-winning 6-lawn TD. He was adequate of a decoy with a sore hamstring in Super Bowl III towards the Baltimore Colts to open items up for absolutely everyone else.
Just before he turned the 1st participant to signal with the New York Titans, right before the Titans turned the Jets, Maynard very first was a spherical peg in a square hole with the 1958 Establishment New York Giants. Coach Allie Sherman appeared at his prolonged, loping stride and explained to him, “This isn’t a monitor fulfill.” And Maynard sealed his NFL fate when he shot again:
“I can include extra ground with a single stride than any person else below can with three.”
Turned out he was right.
“I don’t seriously glimpse at it like I’m the best receiver,” he claimed after. “After you enjoy a though any person can split certain documents. Longevity is the important. The file I’m proudest of is becoming the 1st male to get 10,000 yards in receptions. Some others might do it but I’m the very first, and only one particular guy can be the very first.”
Martin Gover, sports activities agent from Momentum Sports Management, fulfilled Maynard some 20 a long time in the past at Namath’s aged football camp. He remembers Maynard the same way anyone does, as a one particular-of-a-sort character.
“He experienced all these odd work opportunities in the offseason, and he would promote belts, and apparel and boots to his teammates,” Gover recalled. “He was just so loveable, and a true gentleman.
“And Joe liked him, Joe just adored him. And he liked Joe. He thought Joe was a terrific teammate, but a superior dude.”
Maynard would poke fun of Gover, a legitimate New Yorker, a metropolis slicker. “He normally told me there was so considerably website traffic, he never beloved being in the metropolis when I experienced activities for him,” Gover reported.
Gover would accompany Maynard to company gatherings, fulfill-and-greets and autograph displays.
“The community liked him, just liked him,” Gover stated. “And he cherished his enthusiasts. He would have 8×10 photos with him in his gymnasium bag and sign autographs. How lots of folks do that?”
Maynard in his later years was a recluse.
“There were being times when I needed to get a keep of him when I was doing work on factors for him, I couldn’t get a hold of him for weeks at a time,” Gover reported. “He did not personal a cell phone. He did not have like a normal functioning cell phone since he lives in the sticks. He was a Texas boy. He was not a town person. He was really different.
“I cherished him. He often has the ideal boots on, and the greatest cowboy belt. He constantly has fantastic belt buckles. And then he had terrific cowboy hats.”
Maynard was very pleased of his relatives. “When he talked about his mothers and fathers,” Gover recalled, “he constantly cried.”
Of training course Namath was his presenter in Canton.
“Don Maynard, he was the male our opponents fearful about, the knockout punch,” Namath stated. “Lightning in a bottle. Nitro just ready to explode. I mean he could fly. But with the grace of a terrific thoroughbred. The gentleman could flat participate in. He galloped by the finest of the really best football gamers of the globe.”
And did it his way.
“I came to participate in,” Maynard stated at the close of his speech, “and I came to remain. Soccer was a game State Don was my identify. I made a mark, and I became a star, with a large amount of aid from near and far. There are very good ones and excellent kinds, I performed with and against. Thank you, good Lord, for that wonderful possibility. As I played my component many situations even late right after dim, I really do not have to glimpse again as I played it with my coronary heart. The path from in which I came, resulted in a total great deal of fame. I played the very best and I imagine I handed the check. I am glad this is above I need to have some relaxation.”
R.I.P. Don Maynard.