George Sauer passed away Tuesday at the age of 69 after a long battle with Alzheimer's disease. Best known for his brilliant performance in Super Bowl III as the upstart New York Jets upset the heavily-favored Baltimore Colts, George Sauer left professional football shortly after that performance on the biggest stage. George Sauer retired early because he didn't agree with the treatment of players in the NFL, well ahead of his time in terms of being cognizant of some of the issues in the treatment of NFL athletes. That issue has come to the forefront recently, over 40 years after his retirement.
While many remember Don Maynard as the star wide receiver of the New York Jets team that won Super Bowl III, it was George Sauer who caught eight passes from Joe Namath as the Jets beat the Baltimore Colts. The historic win gave the AFL credibility and is still the only Super Bowl appearance in franchise history for the Jets.
A two-time All-Pro, George Sauer stepped up during Super Bowl III as the aforementioned Maynard suffered a hamstring pull that limited his effectiveness. He set up the final points for the Jets late in the third quarter with a 39-yard catch. The reception brought the ball down to the Colts' 10 yard line. The Jets would end up kicking a field goal. George Sauer finished the day with eight receptions for 133 yards.
In the franchise's biggest moment, George Sauer had his best performance. We often remember the names of Joe Namath, Don Maynard and Emerson Boozer as those most closely associated with the Super Bowl III-winning team, but George Sauer deserves the be right up there as one of the stars of the greatest upset in NFL history. It was certainly a team win, but without his individual performance, the NFL might not be what it is today.