In this series, we’ll be highlighting a different player from the storied past of the New York Jets. Today, we take a look at wide receiver George Sauer.
A prolific pass-catcher, Sauer needed just six seasons with the New York Jets to become one of the most productive receivers in franchise history.
Sauer was a four-time AFL All-Star for the Jets, helping the team to their historic victory over the Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl III. He was selected in the fifth round of the “red shirt” portion of the 1965 AFL draft, after playing his collegiate football at the University of Texas.
After a fairly quiet rookie season, Sauer exploded in his second year, catching 63 passes for 1,079 yards and five touchdowns, showing off his big-play ability by averaging more than 17 yards per reception. He had the best season of his career the following year, leading the league with 75 receptions for 1,189 yards and six scores.
Sauer notched his third straight 1,000-yard season in 1968, then followed it up with a career-high eight touchdown catches in 1969.
And keep in mind that all of these numbers came during a time when the regular season was only 14 games, and passing numbers weren’t exactly the kind we see so regularly in today’s NFL.
After six years in the NFL, Sauer surprisingly retired from professional football at the age of 27, later telling the Institute for the Study of Sport and Society that he found the sport dehumanizing (via the New York Times):
When you get to the college and professional levels, the coaches still treat you as an adolescent. They know damn well that you were never given a chance to become responsible or self-disciplined. Even in the pros, you were told when to go to bed, when to turn your lights off, when to wake up, when to eat and what to eat. You even have to live and eat together like you were in a boys’ camp.
Sauer’s 4,965 career receiving yards are still the sixth-most in Jets history, and he currently ranks 10th on the team’s all-time list in both receptions (309) and touchdown receptions (28). He did all this despite only appearing in 84 career games for the Jets.