Pete Lammons, the tight end for the Jets team that stunned the pro football world with a victory over the Baltimore Colts in the 1969 Super Bowl, died on Thursday in a boating accident during a professional fishing tournament in East Texas. He was 77 and had been living in Houston.
Major League Fishing, the sponsor of the tournament, said that Lammons, who was participating in the event, had fallen out of his boat on the Sam Rayburn Reservoir, a popular spot for bass fishing, and that the other man in the boat tried to rescue him. A team equipped with sonar recovered Lammons’s body a few hours later.
Lammons’s nephew Lance Lammons told The Jacksonville Progress newspaper of East Texas that he had appeared to be fatigued after receiving two heart stents. Lammons had competed in more than 50 Major League Fishing tournaments over the years.
He played for the Jets from 1966 to 1971, spending his first four seasons with them when they played in the American Football League, which struggled to survive in the shadow of the long established National Football League.
The Jets were losers in the early years of the A.F.L., which was founded in 1960. Then came the arrival of their charismatic quarterback Joe Namath in 1965.
Lammons caught a touchdown pass from Namath in the Jets’ 27-23 victory over the Oakland Raiders in the 1968 A.F.L. championship game that set up their January 1969 Super Bowl III matchup against the N.F.L.’s Colts, who were heavy favorites.
He caught an 11-yard pass from Namath in the Super Bowl that was followed by Jim Turner’s field goal, giving the Jets a 13-0 lead. They held on for a 16-7 victory.
The Jets said on their website that Weeb Ewbank, who coached them to their Super Bowl triumph, had called Lammons and his wide receiver teammates George Sauer Jr. and Don Maynard “the finest trio of receivers in pro ball to throw to.”
Lammons called Ewbank “an outstanding coach as long as you got accomplished what he wanted.”
“He kept it pretty simple,” he said of Ewbank in 2019. “It was blocking and tackling.”
After playing three seasons with the University of Texas, Lammons was selected by the Jets in the eighth round of the 1966 A.F.L. draft and by the Cleveland Browns in the 14th round of the N.F.L. draft. Choosing the A.F.L., he played in the league’s All-Star Game after the 1967 season.
Lammons, at 6 feet 3 inches and 230 pounds, became a mainstay of a Jets offense that featured Namath’s passing along with the running of Emerson Boozer and Matt Snell. He concluded his pro career with the 1972 season with the Green Bay Packers.
In his seven pro seasons, he caught 185 passes for 2,364 yards and 14 touchdowns.
Peter Spencer Lammons Jr. was born on Oct. 20, 1943, in Crockett, Texas, about 115 miles north of Houston. He was one of three sons of Peter Sr. and Marie (O’Keefe) Lammons. He played football for Jacksonville High School, also in East Texas, and then played for the University of Texas from 1963 to 1965. He caught 47 passes for 706 yards and five touchdowns for the Longhorns, who were ranked No. 1 for the 1963 season.
Lammons’s only immediate survivor was his brother Mike. In addition to his nephew Lance, he is also survived by his nephew Todd and his nieces Jennifer Holtermann and Merrian Mills.
After retiring from football, Lammons worked in real estate and partnered with Jim Hudson, his former Texas and Jets teammate at defensive back, in the thoroughbred business, breeding and racing horses.
In January 2010, when Texas was getting ready to play Alabama at the Rose Bowl for the Bowl Championship Series national title, Lammons remembered how his Longhorns had defeated the Crimson Tide, 21-17, in the New Year’s Day 1965 Orange Bowl game, when Alabama was top-ranked and had Namath as quarterback and Texas was ranked No. 5.
Lammons, playing at end and linebacker, intercepted a pass by Namath, caught two passes, one setting up a score, and recovered a fumble.
“Best game of my life, a career day,” he told George Vecsey of The New York Times.
For the moment, Lammons had skipped over another great day at the Orange Bowl stadium, at least for the Jets, when they pulled off their astonishing upset of the Colts in Super Bowl III.