Don Maynard, a legendary NFL wide receiver who is known for his time with the New York Jets, died on Monday, according to the Jets and the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He was 86 years old. The cause of death was not announced, but Maynard was just 15 days away from his 87th birthday when he died.
"Don Maynard is as essential to the history of the New York Jets as anyone. He came to this franchise at our inception and left a Super Bowl champion," the Jets said in a statement, per ESPN. "On the field, he cemented himself as many things: record holder, Hall of Famer, and forever our No. 13. Off the field, he was unflinchingly himself -- a family man who stayed true to his roots, bringing a Texas cowboy to New York. His passing is especially difficult as he remained close with the Jets throughout his life. Our thoughts today are with his family and loved ones. We will all miss him."
Don Maynard made the two most important catches in #Jets history on consecutive plays, midway through the fourth quarter of the 1968 AFL Championship classic:— Kevin Gallagher (@KevG163) January 11, 2022
A 52-yard over-the-head rainbow from Joe Namath, followed by the 6-yard game-winning score. pic.twitter.com/syCx9V8nrO
Maynard started his NFL career with the New York Giants in 1958, He then played for the Hamilton Tiger-Cats of the CFL in 1959 before joining the Jets in 1960 (called the New York Titans at the time). In his first seasons with the Jets, Maynard caught 72 passes for 1,265 yards and six touchdowns. He was selected to his first Pro Bowl in 1965 and helped the Jets win Super Bowl III in 1969 (for the 1968 season). Maynard was with the Jets until the end of the 1972 season. He joined the St. Louis Cardinals (now Arizona Cardinals ) in 1973 and caught one pass for 18 yards in two games.
For Maynard's career, he caught 633 passes for 11,834 yards and 88 touchdowns. His yards rank 31st all-time in NFL history and his touchdowns rank 14th. Maynard was the first person in NFL history to reach 10,000 receiving yards. He is a member of the AFL All-Time Team and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1987.
"Don was a great player. He made many of his teammates better football players," Jets legendary quarterback Joe Namath said. "He was the man our opponents worried about, the knockout punch, lightning in a bottle, nitro just waiting to explode. I mean he could fly, but with the grace of a great thoroughbred. The man could flat play. He galloped through the best of the very best football players of the world."