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You Can't Catch Sunshine Hardcover – September 13, 2010
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About the Author
Don Maynard is a former wide receiver and member of the All-Time AFL team and is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He was the first wide receiver to eclipse more than 10,000 yards in his career, and he caught more than 50 passes for more than 1,000 yards in five different seasons. Matthew Shepatin is a journalist whose stories on American culture, entertainment, and sports have appeared in Black Book, Esquire, the Los Angeles Times, New York magazine, Playboy, Radar, Slate, and the Village Voice. He is the author of Then Madden Said to Summerall: The Best NFL Stories Ever Told and is a contributing writer on The Enlightened Bracketologist: The Final Four of Everything and The Mad Dog Hall of Fame: The Ultimate Top-Ten Rankings of the Best in Sports. Joe Namath is a former NFL quarterback and a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
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When he retired from the NFL in 1973, he had 633 receptions, 88 touchdowns, 11,834 yards gained and an 18.7 yards-per-catch average. His receptions and yards gained were the most ever, at the time. His yards-per-catch average is third among Hall of Famers. He was the first receiver to achieve 10,000 yards gained in a career, and the first to tally 50 100-yard games. Only he and Jerry Rice have 50 or more 100-yard games.
In "You Can't Catch Sunshine," Maynard chronicles his life and football career. "Sunshine" is Maynard's nickname. A Texan, Maynard, a high school track standout in the hurdles, played one year at Rice University before transferring to Texas Western (now University of Texas at El Paso). Primarily a defensive back and half back, Maynard caught only 30 passes in his collegiate career.
Drafted by the New York Giants in the ninth round, Maynard was used mainly as a back up to running back Frank Gifford. He spent much of the season on the bench. Maynard, however, was one of 12 future Hall of Famers to play in the 1958 championship game vs. the Baltimore Colts, which is often called "The Greatest Game Ever."
Cut by the Giants after the season, Maynard played a year in the Canadian Football League before signing with the New York Titans of the American Football League to play for Coach Sammy Baugh, who he greatly admired. The Titans were a team of NFL rejects and has-beens. The Titans were constantly on shaky financial ground.
The team's fortunes changed when Sonny Werblin purchased the club in 1963 and drafted Joe Namath No. 1 in 1965.
Maynard and Namath were an outstanding pair. It's clear that Maynard had the upmost respect for the flamboyant Namath. Although they were very different--Maynard wore sideburns, jeans and cowboy boots, while Namath wore fur coats, had a mod haircut and was known as a playboy--they related to each other.
He says, "Namath was the total package. He was as good as any quarterback who ever played the game. He was a guy who refused to throw in the towel, even after taking more blows than seemed humanly possible. He never gave up on himself or his teammates no matter how great the odds were stacked against him. He made all of us better. And, he had the respect of the players."
Although he didn't catch a pass in the Super Bowl upset of the Baltimore Colts in 1969, the threat of Namath hooking up with Maynard deep caused the Colts to double team him and altered the defensive alignment. Namath's long, incomplete pass to Maynard, who had a sore hamstring, early in the game set the tone for caution, and created an advantage for the Jets.
While the book ends the season after the Super Bowl, Maynard played several more seasons, including his final one in 1974 for the Houston Texans/Shreveport Steamers in the World Football League. The fact that the last several seasons aren't covered is one of the book's few shortcomings. Maynard was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1987.
After reading this book, you'll definitely have a good feel for the type of person Don Maynard was and what it was like to play in the AFL. I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in football history and its greatest players.