A Legend Remembers A Legend: Max McGee's Days At White Oak

Published: Oct. 23, 2007 at 11:12 PM CDT|Updated: Oct. 24, 2007 at 3:07 AM CDT
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Over the weekend, sports lost a legend and a true character in White Oak's Max McGee. Max is best known across the country as the first player to score in the very first Super Bowl.

But for decades here in East Texas he has been a superstar and an idol to generations.

A man who knows that best is Theo "Cotton" Miles.  Coach Miles was an assistant at the time Max played at White Oak. The two remained friends for more than 50 years.

"I'd have to put him in a class by himself for having so many talents," Coach Miles said. "Max was a fun loving individual. He was one of the more talented individuals I've ever been able to work with."

"Cotton" Miles was just 23 years old when he joined the White Oak coaching staff.

" It was my first job of course. People in town said you are going to have the chance to work with one of the most talented athletes in the state of Texas. I thought oh it's just local pride and they might be over exaggerating, they were not."

"(Max) was a kickoff man, he was a kickoff return man, he was a punter, he was a punt returner, he played offense, he played linebacker. He played every minute of the game and he excelled in every part of it."

Max was all-state football, all-state basketball and Coach Miles swears Max could have gone pro in baseball.

" Max right away had more ability to do more things than anybody I'd ever seen and he could make them all look easy. He played football, basketball, baseball ran track. One of the more unusual athletic feats I've ever witnessed is when Max went to a state track meet and won the high jump, he won the shot put and ran on two relay teams that won first place. We won state championship that year in track mostly because of the feats of Max McGee."

"Little kids idolized him. He would get on the playground and throw them the ball. All the kids wanted to be like Max McGee."

With Coach Miles just a few years older than his players, a much taller and unshaven Max was sometimes mistaken for the coach.

"He appeared to be older than I and when we were on trips quite frequently opponents or when we were at restaurants to eat or some reason meet people, they usually walked past me and spoke to him and called him coach! He looked older than I did!"

 Coach Miles says Max's infamous Super Bowl story is true. Thirty-seven-year-old Max was nursing a hangover when he played and scored in Super Bowl I.

"As I said, Max, well he enjoyed life. The starting end on the second series of downs and so Max was called in to play and played the remainder of it and winded up as the most valuable player, gained a lot of yardage and scored two touchdowns and became a national hero because of what he did in the Super Bowl. Really, he didn't even know he was going to play in the thing!"

Coach Miles says this weekend he not only lost a former player but one of his very best friends.
"He was a carefree guy, he didn't ever seem to realize what he had done. It was not a boastful thing about him. He just didn't think about it that much."

"He just played."