The 60-Minute Man
Maxie Baughan went from Tech to a Hall of Fame-worthy pro career
Memo to the National Football League Hall of Fame: What are the criteria for membership?
It’s certainly not sheer performance or else Maxie Calloway Baughan, Jr. would have been selected a long time ago.
How can you admit players with as few as three All-Pro selections and exclude one (Baughan) who was chosen for the Pro Bowl nine times?
Baughan, the 1959 Georgia Tech team captain, All-American linebacker and offensive center, played 10 pro seasons – four with the LA Rams, five with the Philadelphia Eagles and one with the Washington Redskins.
In his rookie season (1960) he helped lead the Eagles to the Super Bowl and a 17-13 victory over the Green Bay Packers.
At 6’ 1”, 225 pounds, he was a lightweight compared to those 275-pound behemoths he faced. Few outside the Eagles clubhouse knew how wracked with pain he was.
Baughan accepted the normal bumps and bruises a linebacker suffers as part of the game. He went beyond that. He played with a chronic shoulder injury and wounded wrists.
But he never gave ground. He kept going in spite of his pain and dished out as much as or more than he took. He was known around the league as a devastating tackler.
As a result of his gritty play, he was runner-up for the NFL Rookie of the Year award. Herb Good of The Philadelphia Inquirer said, “If there is anyone more deserving of the honor, I haven’t seen him.”
Eagles defensive coach Jerry Williams said, “Maxie may be the best linebacker ever in the NFL.”
Baughan grew up in Bessemer, Ala., where he made All-State his junior and senior years and was known as the best college football prospect in Alabama.
Georgia Tech Coach Bobby Dodd brought him to Grant Field to see the Jackets play Auburn and painted a verbal picture of Baughan dressed in gold and white and chasing down an Auburn running back. Dodd convinced him he belonged in a Tech jersey.
For the next four years, Baughan was known as Tech’s 60-minute man.
“He’s the only player I ever coached who never had a bad game,” Dodd said. “He was one of the most consistently great football players I ever saw.”
In his senior year at Tech Baughan made 124 tackles – a school record.
It is extremely rare when a player on a losing team is named the game’s most valuable player, but in the 1960 Gator Bowl Tech lost to Arkansas, 14-7, and Baughan, who went the distance offensively and defensively, was the unanimous MVP choice.
After the game, the Arkansas defender Bill Luplow said, “Baughan is the hardest hitter I ever saw.”
The late Georgia Tech trainer Buck Andel said, “Baughan suffered knee injuries that would have kept most players on the bench for three or four games. Baughan never missed one play.”
Baughan said, “I did not come out of the game because I did not want anyone taking my position. They may have been better than me.”
Today, Maxie is 70 years old and spends his time playing golf, working with the Boy Scouts and preparing kids for high school football and high school kids for the college game.
Before he retired, he was an assistant coach at his alma mater and head football coach at Cornell for seven years. His Cornell team gave him an Ivy League Championship as a going-away present.
Baughan and his wife of 47 years, the former Diane Edge, live about 35 miles from Baltimore in Reisterstown, Md.
Now about that Pro Football Hall of Fame selection. It’s the only one missing from Baughan’s collection.
He is a member of the National Football Foundation College Hall of Fame and of the Super Bowl, Gator Bowl and Hula Bowl halls of fame, as well as the Philadelphia Eagles and Georgia Tech halls of fame, and halls of fame for the states of Alabama, Georgia and Pennsylvania.
So why not the NFL Hall of Fame?
The selection committee need not wait until next year’s selection meeting. Members should act now to extend Baughan an invitation.