Don Maynard, a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, known for helping the New York Jets win Super Bowl III, has died, according to a statement released by the Hall of Fame. He was 86. The cause of death was not disclosed.
A wide receiver, Maynard was one of Joe Namath’s favorite targets.
“He was the man our opponents worried about, the knockout punch. Lightning in a bottle,” Namath, the famed Jets’ quarterback, said in 1987, when Maynard was enshrined in the Hall of Fame. “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.”
Maynard was the first signee of the New York Titans in the American Football League in 1960; the team was rebranded as the Jets three years later.
And at the time of his retirement in 1973, Maynard’s career receptions (633) and yards receiving (11,834) were league records, according to the Hall of Fame. He also amassed 10,000 yards receiving before any other pro player.
“After you play awhile, anybody can break certain records,” Maynard once said, according to the Hall of Fame. “Longevity is the key. The record I’m proudest of is being the first guy to get 10,000 yards in receptions. Others may do it, but I’m the first, and only one guy can be the first.”
“Our Pro Football Hall of Fame family mourns the passing of Don Maynard,” said Hall of Fame President Jim Porter. “He was a resilient man on and off the field – and someone that his teammates could always count on.”