Maynard was drafted in the ninth round of the 1957 draft by the New York Giants. Though he did not make the team that year, he did play the next year for the Giants.
He was used as a return specialist mostly, taking 24 punts and 11 kickoffs for 401 yards. Maynard also caught five passes and ran the ball a career best 12 times as a reserve halfback.
He was released after that season, so Maynard joined the Hamilton Tiger-Cats of the Canadian Football League in 1959. The fledgling American Football League was born the next year, so Maynard left the CFL to join the New York Titans.
He was teamed up with fellow wide receiver Art Powe. Powe, who is a member of the AFL's All-Time Team, was another receiver rejected by the NFL the year before. Powe had been an 11th-round pick of the Philadelphia Eagles, but was also just used as a return specialist.
The duo lit up the AFL for the three years they teamed up. Powe had 204 catches over that time, leading the league in receiving yards and touchdown catches once, before going to play with the Oakland Raiders.
Maynard was equally as dangerous, grabbing 171 balls for 1,935 yards and 22 scores over that time. The Titans weren't a very good team, so the franchise was often on the verge of bankruptcy trying to compete against the Giants in the same city.
Renamed the Jets in 1963, the franchises fortunes began to change for the better after drafting future Hall of Fame quarterback Joe Namath. He and Maynard soon developed an excellent repertoire and Namath often looked the way of his favorite receiver when the team needed yards most.
Making his first Pro Bowl in 1965, Maynard led the AFL with a career best 14 touchdown receptions. Namath became the first quarterback to throw for over 4,000 yards in 1967, and Maynard's career best 1,434 yards and 102.4 yards receiving yards per game, both of which led the league, was a big reason why. He also averaged 20.2 yards on 71 receptions while scoring 10 times.
This set the stage for the Jets magical 1968 season. Maynard led the AFL with a career best 22.8 yards per catch average, while also leading the league with a 99.8 yards receiving per game average. He piled up 1,297 yards and caught 10 touchdown passes.
In the 1968 AFL Championship, Maynard burned the Oakland Raiders secondary for 118 yards on six receptions. Not only did he score the first touchdown of the contest, he also scored the last. That latter touchdown won the game for the Jets 27-23.
The Jets then faced the NFL's Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl III. Tired of hearing the media constantly tell him the Colts would dominate, Namath made his famous guarantee that his team would win. Baltimore was so intent on stopping Maynard, Namath used him as a decoy and targeted George Sauer instead.
While Maynard did not touch the football, the strategy worked. New York won 16-7, an important moment in AFL history that ultimately forced a merger between the leagues. It is still the only championship season in Jets history.
The 1969 season was not only Maynard's last Pro Bowl year, it was his only First Team All-Pro nod. He averaged 20 yards on 47 receptions. His production began to decline over the next three years, so he joined the Saint Louis Cardinals in 1973.
After one catch in two games, he joined the Houston Texans of the World Football League in 1974. The Texans were later renamed the Shreveport Steamers because the WFL was struggling financially. He retired after that season.
Not only is Maynard inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, he is a member of the AFL's All-Time Team. Maynard is one of 20 players to play the entire 10 seasons the AFL existed, and he is one of seven to have played his entire AFL career for one franchise. He is also one of just a few players to play for the NFL, CFL, AFL and WFL.
Maynard was once just one of only five players to record more than 50 receptions and more than 1,000 receiving yards in five different seasons for many years. Maynard left the game with the most receptions and receiving yards in pro football history at the time. He is the first receiver ever to exceed 10,000 receiving yards.
He still is the Jets all-time leader in receptions, receiving yards and touchdowns caught. His 18.7 career yards per catch average is even more amazing because Maynard dealt with the 10-yard chuck rule and caught balls from over a dozen different quarterbacks.
Known for his sure hands, Maynard also was had great improvisational skills when running routes. He is easily the greatest receiver in Jets history, let alone one of the best in pro football history.