MINNEAPOLIS, Oct. 21 (AP) — Max McGee, the free-spirited Green Bay Packers receiver who became part of Super Bowl lore after a night on the town, died Saturday when he fell while clearing leaves from the roof of his home. He was 75.
The police were called to his home in suburban Deephaven on Saturday afternoon, Sgt. Chris Whiteside said. Efforts to resuscitate him failed.
“I just lost my best friend,” McGee’s former teammate Paul Hornung told The St. Paul Pioneer Press.
Hornung said McGee’s wife, Denise, was away from the house and had warned McGee not to get up on the roof.
“He shouldn’t have been up there,” Hornung said. “He knew better than that.”
McGee caught the first touchdown pass and scored the first points in Super Bowl history in 1967, in a game he expected to watch from the sideline. When it was over, he had caught seven passes for 138 yards and 2 touchdowns. Green Bay, coached by Vince Lombardi, defeated the Kansas City Chiefs, 35-10.
“Now he’ll be the answer to one of the great trivia questions: Who scored the first touchdown in Super Bowl history?” Hornung said. “Vince knew he could count on him.”
McGee had only four receptions for 91 yards during the 1966 regular season. He did not plan to play in the title game against the Chiefs because he violated the team curfew and spent the night before partying.
Boyd Dowler separated a shoulder on the Packers’ second drive, and Lombardi summoned McGee. He had to borrow a helmet because he left his in the locker room. A few plays later, McGee made a one-handed snare of a pass from Bart Starr and ran 37 yards to score.
“When it’s third-and-10, you can take the milk drinkers and I’ll take the whiskey drinkers every time,” McGee said.
Jerry Kramer played 11 seasons on the Packers with McGee, and they remained friends. He said McGee’s humor defused the tension on a team run by Lombardi’s iron hand.
“When everyone else was looking at their feet wondering what to do, Max would come up with something,” he said.
Kramer said that McGee had a stubborn streak and that it was not altogether surprising he went on the roof by himself.
“It’s hard to admit and distinguish the fact that you’re no longer what you were and you’re no longer capable of certain activities,” Kramer said. “And I think we push the limit a little bit.”
McGee attended White Oak High School in East Texas. He was a running back at Tulane and the nation’s top kick returner in 1953. Selected by the Packers in the fifth round of the 1954 draft, McGee spent two years in the Air Force as a pilot after his rookie year before returning in 1957 to play 11 more seasons. He finished his career with 345 receptions for 6,346 yards — an 18.4-yard average — and scored 51 touchdowns and 306 points.
After retiring from football, he became a major partner in developing the popular Chi-Chi’s chain of Mexican restaurants. In 1979, he became an announcer for the Packer Radio Network with Jim Irwin until retiring in 1998.
In addition to his wife, McGee is survived by four children.