Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Don Maynard: You Sure?

So how good was Don Maynard really? He had a gunslingin' HOF QB throwing his way, yet he was only a first-team All-AFL pick once, never all-NFL anything, and only a four-time AFL All-Star. He wasn't Ray Berry, Rapid Robert Hayes or even Ray Renfro. In fact, through most of Maynard's best years he wasn't even the best wide receiver on his team. George Sauer was a four-time AFL All-Star and a first-team All-AFL pick twice before walking away from the game after six years to wear a turtleneck and channel Tom Wolfe.

On the other hand, Maynard was rockin' it out in NYC and was the twanging Texas Gary Cooper to Joe Namath's 'Bama-bred Cary Grant, and that -- not the Al Dorow years or sheer production -- got him his HOF bust, though he was clearly inferior to Sauer when the two played together. Maynard had speed and hands but was not a disciplined route-runner. Sauer had speed and hands and ran routes. Maynard was good and exceptionally durable but clearly not great. In that respect he resembles Harold Jackson or Isaac Curtis, two receivers who are close to the Hall of Fame but not in, and not likely to get in. 

There are lots of players who are victims of circumstance, and then there are players circumstance smiles upon. Don Maynard is one of those.

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