Dana Keifer told The New York Times her brother had been stricken with Alzheimer's disease for several years and died Tuesday of congestive heart failure in Westerville.
Sauer was a standout on the Jets team that stunned the Baltimore Colts in the 1969 Super Bowl, the first in which the American Football League champion prevailed over the well-established NFL.
Sauer became a primary receiver for Joe Namath after Don Maynard was hurt. He caught passes in the landmark contest that was won by the Jets 16-7.
Sauer, who played for undefeated Texas in 1963-1964, was a four-time AFL all-star during his 5-year pro career. He appeared in 84 pro games in his career and caught 309 passes for 4,965 yards.
But Sauer was also sharp critic of pro football and retired in 1970 at the height of his career, The Times said. He called the pro system dehumanizing and resented the control that coaches and management exercised over the players.
"When you get to the college and professional levels, the coaches still treat you as an adolescent," he said in an interview in 1971 with the Institute for the Study of Sport and Society. "They know damn well that you were never given a chance to become responsible or self-disciplined."
Sauer pursued his passion for writing after his playing days ended.