Maxie Baughan, one of the most fearsome linebackers of the 1960s who earned nine Pro Bowl nominations as a member of the Philadelphia Eagles and Los Angeles Rams, died Saturday at the age of 85 in Ithaca, NY.
His death was confirmed in one opinion from the National Football League.
For Baughan, who was born on August 3, 1938 in tiny Forkland, Alabama during the Great Depression, fame on a national stage as an adult seemed a long way off. His father was a tenant turned roadblock whose job was to climb telephone poles for repairs.
“When he came home, you could tell his arms had black spots with blood in them,” Baughan said in a 2016 interview with The News & Advance newspaper in Lynchburg, Virginia. “I decided I didn't want to do that, so I didn't do it. But I certainly didn't think I would play professional football. I never dreamed of that.”
When he left home to play football for acclaimed coach Bobby Dodd at Georgia Tech, his father was with him gave him 20 dollars and said, “That's it.”
Apparently it was enough.
Combining ferocity with seeming omnipresence on the field, Baughan became a two-pronged star for the Yellow Jackets, from linebacker and center to team captain. In his last season in 1959 he was a star. That year, he was named a Consensus All-American and was named Southeastern Conference Lineman of the Year.
Although Georgia Tech lost the 1960 Gator Bowl to Frank Broyles' Arkansas Razorbacks, Baughan was named one of the two most valuable players in the game alongside Arkansas safety Jim Mooty.
Although not particularly impressive physically by NFL standards, Baughan, 6'1″ and 250 pounds, was selected by the Eagles in the second round of the 1960 draft. Still, the League itself was a mystery to him. At this point, there was no team further south than Washington in the Eastern Conference.
“I didn't even know that names of the teams“He later said, “when the Eagles called me up, I was like, ‘Okay, I'll see what this is about.'”
In his 1960 rookie season, Baughan filled in as a weakside linebacker alongside future Hall of Famer Chuck Bednarik, named the punishing linebacker “Concrete Charlie” (who also played center) to bolster the Eagles' strong defense.
The team stormed to a 10-2 record that year and won the championship game over Vince Lombardi's Green Bay Packers, with Baughan intercepting three passes.
He placed second in United Press International's Rookie of the Year poll and was named to his first of five Pro Bowl selections with the Eagles.
After a transfer to the Los Angeles Rams in 1966, Baughan picked up where he left off. Rams coach George Allen named him the team's defensive captain and signal caller. Behind quarterback Roman Gabriel, the Rams twice reached the divisional round of the playoffs in the next five years, with Baughan cleaning up behind the team's famous defensive line known as the Fearsome Foursome on defense with Deacon Jones, Lamar Lundy, Rosey Greer and Merlin Olsen.
He would get four more Pro Bowl appearances during his tenure with the Rams, which contributed to an NFL resume that also included five years as a second-team All-Pro and one as a first-team player.
Baughan retired in 1970 and later became defensive coordinator at his alma mater, Georgia Tech. But his days as an NFL player weren't quite over. In 1974, Baughan briefly served as player-coach for the Washington Redskins, although he only appeared in two games.
He patrolled the touchlines for more than two decades and served as defensive coordinator for the Baltimore Colts and Detroit Lions and as a head coach at Cornell University. He ended his career as a linebacker coach for the Minnesota Vikings, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Baltimore Ravens.
In that role, he mentored future Hall of Famers Derrick Brooks of the Buccaneers and Ray Lewis of the Ravens.
Baughan is survived by his wife Dianne, to whom he was married for 62 years. his sons Max, Mark and Matt; and eight grandchildren.
He is a member of Eagles Hall of Fame and was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1988. The Pro Football Hall of Fame Senior Committee was scheduled to meet Tuesday to narrow the field from 12 semifinalists to three finalists for induction into the Class of 2024. Players in the senior category played their games in professional football at the latest in the 1998 season.
“Being a little kid from a small town, I didn't just have one pair of shoes and no jacket when I went to college,” Baughan said in an interview TV interview In 1988, he recalled the great honor he felt when he was named captain of the Yellow Jackets. “There were some things that shouldn't happen to me.”