Sunday, October 21, 2007

RIP Max McGee

You know something is wrong when you turn the radio on in the morning and the sports guys are not doing their regular 15-after-the-hour time slot, but are talking with the other news folks at an odd time...words and phrases are spoken like "tragic," "Packers legend," "one-of-a-kind," "he was 75," "Minneapolis suburb," "fellow teammate Paul Hornung." First thoughts: an old Packer had died. When I heard Hornung's name, I immediately thought of Max McGee. Eventually, the radio folks got around to repeating the sad news: Max McGee is dead. Fell off the roof of his Minnesota home late Saturday afternoon while cleaning off leaves, despite his wife apparently telling him not to do so; it's unclear whether he was alone at the time, but sounds like it. Emergency personnel attempted to revive him, but he was pronounced dead at the scene.

Gone. A Lombardi Legend. A great player who also became a great radio broadcaster of Packers games along with Jim Irwin.

Here's a piece of trivia for the youngsters reading this: who was the first person to catch a touchdown pass in a Super Bowl? That's right, Max McGee in Super Bowl I. He had had one of his infamous nights on the town the evening before, figuring he wouldn't be playing much if at all. He had only caught four passes all year long in a reserve roll, after all. According to the the story, he wound up catching about an hour's sleep on the bus to the game. When an injury to starter Boyd Dowler on the second play of the game necessitated Max going in, he couldn't even find his helmet; had to play the first series with someone else's. He wound up having one of the best performances in Super Bowl history: seven catches for 138 yards and two touchdowns.

Max McGee: Packers Hall of Fame member. #85. A legend as a player and as a person.

He was truly one of a kind. Perhaps it's fitting there is no Packers game today. Gives us a moment to reflect on the life of one of the great receivers and personalities in Packers history.

You can read an article about Max here. No doubt there will be lots of tributes coming over the days ahead. And rightly so. Thanks, Max, for all the memories and all the laughs.