Packer Receivers of History: Max McGee

Max McGeeA continuation of the Packer Receivers of History series. To read the articles you missed, go to the Packer Receivers of History category page.

From the moment Max McGee entered the NFL, he showed that he was something special.

Max was drafted in the fifth round of the 1954 draft. That late in the draft, coaches and GMs are looking for either projects that might pan out in the years to come or sleepers who are quietly hiding in the ranks.

McGee was the latter.

Max entered the league in a time when the Packers had hit their biggest dry spell of their history. The last time they had a league championship was 1944 and the organization was in unfamiliar territory as they looked for ways to bring the Packer powerhouse out of obscurity and back into the limelight.

In his rookie season, McGee caught more touchdown passes than anyone else on the team. A one-time 3,000 yard rusher in high school, he combined an uncanny pass catching ability with a running back’s ability to generate yards after the catch as he made a statement that he would be a big part of the Packers’ rapid rise back to NFL dominance.

In 1958, he again led the team in receiving stats. In that season, McGee caught 37 passes for 655 yards and seven touchdowns.

The Packers’ 1958 season was the worst in its history but McGee’s performance that season gave Packer fans a hint of the astounding turnaround that was in the making.

In 1959, the Packers hired Vince Lombardi as their head coach, the team posted its first winning record in twelve seasons, and Max McGee again made his contribution to their success.

Max caught 30 passes for 695 yards and had his career high yardage per reception with 23.2. Max shared receptions with an outstanding rookie receiver Boyd Dowler. Over the next several seasons the two would spell each other from time to time as one or the other struggled with injury. However, as McGee’s career entered its final seasons, Dowler had secured the starting spot. But, that wouldn’t stop Max from making a bold statement about his abilities before hanging up the cleats.

During the 1966 season McGee had only caught four total passes as Dowler had taken the bulk of the workload. So, while the Packers were preparing for Super Bowl I against the Kansas City Chiefs, Max was preparing for a Super Bowl party to remember.

Notorious for partying late into the night, Max was the first player Lombardi had an assistant check on before curfew. Much to his relief, the coach found McGee lying in bed nestled tight for the night. What he didn’t know was that under those covers McGee was wearing a full suit… coat and all.

The following day Max advised Boyd Dowler that he’d better not get injured because Max “didn’t feel so good.” Despite that admonition, Dowler got hurt and McGee scrambled to borrow a helmet because he hadn’t even brought his to the field.

In a case of making some of the sweetest lemonade out of the worst lemons available, McGee…hungover and all…proceeded to score the first receiving touchdown of the new Super Bowl era. In the end, McGee caught 7 passes for 138 yards and had scored two touchdowns as the Packers beat the Chiefs and, by default the entire American Football League.

The following year after only catching three passes all season long, McGee would catch a single pass in the second Super Bowl for 35 yards. Following that game, he closed the doors on his pro football career and moved on to other things. But by then he’d secured a placed in the hearts of Packer fans everywhere.


Packer Receivers of History: Max McGee — 1 Comment

  1. Spent an entire afternoon playing pool with Max several years ago at Marla McGee’s Buffalo Chip Saloon in Cave Creek AZ. He verified that he did party all night before the championship game against KC. He was a great receiver and really fun to spend an afternoon and a few beers with.

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