Joe Namath pays tribute to late Jets receiver Don Maynard

Joe Namath wrote a moving memoir for Don Maynard, the former Jets wide receiver who died this week at the age of 86.

“That day, January 12, 1969, was one of the greatest days of my life…our life…and neither of us could have made it without the other,” Namath wrote on Twitter. “In fact, it was only possible because of Don’s sensational catches in the AFC championship game.”

In the game Namath is referring to, the AFL championship game against the Raiders that the Jets won 27-23, Maynard had six catches for 118 yards and two touchdowns.

“Ironically, as people like to point out, he didn’t catch a pass the entire Super Bowl,” Namath continued. “But that’s because, Coach [Don] Shula’s and Baltimore’s defense respected Don so much and knew he was the lightning bolt of our team, so they had him in double cover every game, which opened up the entire offense for us.

Joe Namath and Don Maynard laugh in 2004.
Joe Namath and Don Maynard laugh in 2004.
Ralf Waclawicz
Don Maynard (left), Joe Namath and Jim Turner during their time with the Jets.
Bettmann Archive

“The strength of the defense always turned to Don’s side. His influence on the Super Bowl was kind of hidden from the casual fan, but for those of us who got it, he was invaluable.”

The Jets defeated the Baltimore Colts 16-7 in Super Bowl III, confirming Namath’s famous guarantee.

“That word pretty much sums it up [Maynard] up… invaluable,” Namath wrote. “He was a wonderful teacher for me about life and football. He’s one of the best men I’ve had the good fortune to spend this life with and I don’t have a single bad memory of him.

“We all come and go. We’re moving to the next level where our mind is free to roam and I only have this image of it galloping like a thoroughbred down a heavenly field. Rest in peace don until we meet again.”

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