Max McGee was the headline in Chapter One of Super Bowl history. Real NFL fans (especially the older ones) remember Max McGee the aging third string receiver for the Green Bay Packers who came off the bench (with a huge hangover) to win Super Bowl I over the Kansas City Chiefs.
For a certain young caddie at Olympic Hills Country Club (OH for short) in Eden Prairie, MN. Max is remembered for an entirely different reason. McGee, once a great wide receiver who was known for his boozing and womanizing lifestyle, didn’t wait for the post game party after the ‘first big game’; he started his party the night before. McGee, in the twilight of his career, thinking he would play very little on that first Super Sunday, went out for a “Super Saturday Night” in Kansas City that January night in 1967. The next day McGee gained NFL immortality when Coach Vince Lombardi called his number early in the first quarter when Boyd Dowler, Packers star receiver, injured his shoulder.
In that first Super Bowl every play and every statistic made history — because there was no history. McGee became the author of his own history book. Shaking-off his throbbing hangover, McGee caught the FIRST EVER touchdown pass in a Super Bowl, one of two he’d score on the day. The Packers, behind McGee’s seven receptions for 138 yards, pounded the Kansas City Chiefs 35 to 10.
Retiring the following year, McGee moved to Minneapolis and became a very successful restaurateur. McGee joined OH where for over thirty years you could find him each day holding court in the grill, entertaining members, friends and old Packer teammates. Sitting at his favorite table, the lovable Max would tell stories of Packer history and his days at Tulane University, where he claimed to have made more money than they paid him in Green Bay.
One of his regular OH guests was former teammate Paul Hornung, the great Packer running back and McGee’s favorite party partner.
Jeff, who became a caddie at OH at age eleven, was big for his age and had no problem toting Max’s huge bag; he soon became the favorite looper for Mr. McGee. Jeff quickly learned about Nassau, double presses, needling and gotchas; he also learned the greens, yardage and Max’s favorite clubs. When Hornung was in town, Jeff caddied double for the pair of ex-Packers. Horning once suggested that Jeff should swim in the Olympics — noting the speed that Jeff swam to retrieve one of Hornung’s clubs after the always volatile athlete threw it in one of the many lakes at OH. Jeff always got huge tips!
Jeff’s dad, who played taxi driver, picked his son up at the pre-arranged time each day. He looked forward to the drive home, hearing stories about Max and Paul and the other exotic characters for which OH was famous. Many of the stories were better untold around Jeff’s mom. On the drive home one day, as summer was coming to an end and Jeff was approaching his twelfth birthday, Jeff’s dad suggested that it might be time to have a little father-son conversation about the “birds and bees.”
Jeff was silent for a few seconds, then said with a little shit-eating grin on his face, “Ah dad, Mr. McGee and Mr. Hornung have pretty much covered that subject with me.”
Max McGee was also the author of a history book for Jeff and the other caddies at OH.