Joe Namath, Don Maynard, New York Jets, Super Bowl III
Joe Namath, Don Maynard, New York Jets, Getty Images

Joe Namath described his friend Don Maynard as “invaluable” in a Wednesday post

The New York Jets‘ celebration of their lone Super Bowl victory took a somber turn on Wednesday, as the 53rd anniversary of the historic 16-7 win over the Baltimore Colts came two days after the passing of Don Maynard.

New York’s most prolific receiver had no receptions in the final game but played a vital role in their trek to Miami. Maynard was second in the American Football League in receiving yards (1,297) and earned the game-winning yardage and scores in the Jets’ AFL Championship Game victory over the Oakland Raiders.

Despite his lack of a stat line in the fateful matchup with the Colts, Maynard referred to it as the greatest performance of his career, as Baltimore’s efforts to contain him allowed teammates like George Sauer (8 receptions, 133 yards) and Matt Snell (4 receptions, 40 yards) to get open and move the ball.

The game is best known for Joe Namath‘s MVP performance and the guarantee of victory that came with it, as the Jets changed the course of professional football history by becoming the first AFL team to triumph over an NFL squad, leading to the leagues’ merging soon after.

Namath took to Twitter on Wednesday to pay tribute to his fallen friend on the anniversary of their greatest triumph.

“This day, January 12th, 1969 was one of the greatest days of my life…of our lives…and none of us could’ve done it without each other,” Namath says in his opening. “In fact it was only possible because of Don’s sensational catches in the (AFL) Championship Game.”

Maynard tallied 118 yards on six receptions in that 27-23 win over the Raiders, including the opening and closing scores. When it came to the Super Bowl itself, Namath said that Maynard influenced the game in a way that was “hidden from the casual fan.”

“Coach (Don) Shula and Baltimore’s defense respected Don so much and knew he was the lightning strike of our team so they had him in double coverage every play, which opened up the whole offense for us,” Namath explained. “The strength of the defense always rotated to Don’s side.”

Namath referred to Maynard’s Miami performance as “invaluable”, which he felt described his receiver and friend’s life as a whole.

“He was a wonderful teacher to me about life and football,” Namath said. “He’s one of the finest men I have been fortunate enough to spend this lifetime with and I don’t have a single bad memory of him.

“We all come and go. We move to the next level where our spirit roams free and I just have this image of him galloping down a heavenly field like a thoroughbred. Rest In Peace, Don, until we meet again.”

Namath and Maynard are two of five Jets players to have their numbers officially retired by the team and, along with Joe Klecko, were part of the charter class of the Jets’ Ring of Honor in 2010. Maynard remains the franchise’s leader in all major receiving categories and goes down as the first receiver in professional football history to reach 10,000 yards.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

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Geoff Magliocchetti is a veteran football writer with years of credentialed experience with the Jets and Giants. Email: geoffmags90@gmail.com

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