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The Legend of Max McGee

by Craig Edwards

Posted on October 21, 2007 at 1:59 PM

Updated Wednesday, Nov 4 at 2:41 PM

By Craig Edwards

I've always been a big fan of sports history, particularly football. The stories of how the modern day NFL came to be have always fascinated me.

So, I was saddened this morning to learn that Max McGee had died at the age of 75. If you're not familiar with the name, that's okay. His football career ended nearly 40 years ago. He is not in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, though he's part of one the greatest pieces of football lore you'll ever hear.

In 1966, McGee's career as a wide receiver with the Green Bay Packers was winding down. He had caught only a handful of passes for less than 100 yards all season during the Pack's charge towards the NFL Championship. In fact, his biggest role on the team seemed to be driving coach Vince Lombardi nuts by breaking team rules.

This was the year of the first Superbowl, pitting the NFL champion against the American Football league's (the modern AFC) champion on January 15, 1967.

Max wasn't expecting to play a single down against the Kansas City Chiefs. So as someone who liked the night life, he snuck out after the team's curfew and stayed up way, way past a smart bed time the night before the big game. There are also stories that he even left his helmet in the locker room at the LA Memorial Coliseum, simply because he wouldn't need it.

But of course, destiny struck in the first quarter, as starter Boyd Dowler went down with a shoulder injury on the Packers' second drive. Though he was not really in a condition to play, McGee went into the game and caught the first touchdown pass in Superbowl history. All said, he caught seven passes for 138 yards and two touchdowns throughout the game, leading the Packers to a 35-10 win.

Bart Starr won the game's MVP award, but if you ask me, the honor should have gone to Max McGee.

In his post football life, he would help fund diabetes research and served as a radio announcer with the Packers.

I never met Max McGee, or ever saw him play, but this story always made me laugh. God Bless his memory.