Hall of Fame New York Jets wide receiver Don Maynard dies at age 86

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Legendary New York Jets receiver Don Maynard, arguably the most accomplished player in franchise history and one of the biggest contributors to their only Super Bowl team, died Monday according to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He was 86 years old.

Maynard was the first player signed by the New York Titans in 1960, three years before the team changed its name to the Jets. Maynard put together one of the greatest wide receiver careers in the history of professional football, earning induction to the Hall of Fame in 1987.

Maynard was known for his ability to make tough catches in big spots. And so it’s fitting that he and fellow franchise legend Joe Namath connected for the most impactful play in franchise history.

New York Jets Hall of Fame wide receiver Don Maynard.
New York Jets Hall of Fame wide receiver Don Maynard.

Down 23-20 to the Raiders in the fourth quarter of the 1968 AFC Championship game, Namath launched a pass that traveled about 75 yards in the air to Maynard, who stretched his arms over his head and made a running catch at the 6-yard line. On the next play, they connected for a 6-yard touchdown that gave the Jets a 27-23 win against the Raiders and their only AFC title.

Maynard finished that game with six catches for 118 yards and two touchdowns. A week later, the Jets won their only Super Bowl, a stunning upset of the Colts.

Maynard was not just one of the greatest Jets of all time, he remains one of the greatest receivers to play the game. When he retired in 1974 he was pro football’s all-time leader in receptions (633) and receiving yards (11,834). Forty-eight years later, his 88 touchdown catches remain the 14th most in pro football history.

His 18.7 yards per catch are the most of any receiver in NFL history who has at least 600 receptions.

He's one of only 20 players to play all 10 seasons of the American Football League's existence. Drafted by the Giants (109th overall) in 1957, he was cut after one season and played in the CFL (Hamilton Tiger-Cats) in 1959.

Maynard played 12 seasons with the Jets and remains the franchise's all-time leader in receiving yards (11,732), receptions (627) and touchdowns (88).

Andy Vasquez is the Jets beat writer for NorthJersey.com.

This article originally appeared on NorthJersey.com: Don Maynard, Hall of Fame wide receiver, dies at 86