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L E’s Stories – “The Golden Boy From The Shadow Of The Golden Dome Goes On To Play For The Green & Gold” – The Story of Paul Hornung

Growing up a huge Texas Longhorns and Dallas Cowboys fan in West Texas from 1954 to 1966….it was an impossible task for Bone Daddy, the original Sportsphile, to like any player from Notre Dame or the Green Bay Packers…..but it was in the realm of possibility to at least appreciate the talents of the great players who played for the Fighting Irish or the Packers…cuz this was a time when both teams ascended to the top of their games….and there was no greater or more celebrated  player than Paul Hornung…..for The Golden Boy was featured on the cover of many of the nation’s top publications to include Time Magazine….The Saturday Evening Post….Sports Illustrated….Sport Magazine….and so many more….so, BD became a “silent fan” of the Heisman Trophy winner and NFL Most Valuable Player. 

NFL – 1958 to 1967 – NFL Films Scrapbook Presents – “The Life & Career Of Green Bay Packers RB Paul Hornung”

Paul Hornung (December 23, 1935 – November 13, 2020), nicknamed “the Golden Boy”, was an American professional football player….who was a Hall of Fame running back for the Green Bay Packers of the National Football League (NFL) from 1957 to 1966….when he played on teams that won four NFL titles and the 1st Super Bowl…..as he is the 1st Heisman Trophy winner to be selected as the 1st overall selection in the NFL Draft to play pro football….and win the NFL most valuable player award….while being inducted into both the professional and college football halls of fame.

NCAA Football & NFL – 1953 To 1967 – Special – “A Look Back At Paul Hornung’s Life And Career”

A versatile player, Hornung was a halfback, quarterback and placekicker…..who was an excellent all-around college athlete at Notre Dame….where he played basketball in addition to football.

NCAA Football & NFL – 1953 To 1967 – Notre Dame Football Special – Paul Hornung

Hornung was born and raised in Louisville, Kentucky…..where he was an outstanding athlete at Flaget High School in Louisville….while having lettered all four years in football, basketball and baseball. He was recruited by Bear Bryant at Kentucky in nearby Lexington….but chose to attend Notre Dame instead.

NCAA Football & NFL – 2018 – SHC Hometown Heroes Special – Paul Hornung

After spending his sophomore season of 1954 as a backup fullback…. that is when Hornung blossomed as a halfback and safety during his junior year in 1955….when he finished 4th in the nation in total offense with 1,215 yards and six touchdowns….as his two touchdowns on offense and two interceptions on defense spurred a victory over # 4 Navy…..while his touchdown pass and field goal beat Iowa.  In a loss to Southern California, Hornung ran and threw for 354 yards….which was the best in the nation in 1955.

NCAA Football – 1954 To 1957 – Sports + Torts With David Spada Interview – Paul Hornung On His Notre Dame Career

In the 1956 season he led his team offensively in passing, rushing, scoring, kickoff and punt returns, and punting.  He also played defense and led in passes broken up….while he was 2nd in interceptions and tackles made.  In spite of Notre Dame’s 2-8 record, Hornung won the Heisman Trophy in 1956….as the year’s outstanding U.S. college football player….which is the only time a player from a losing team has been so honored.  Nicknamed “The Golden Boy”, the highly versatile quarterback could run, pass, block and tackle…..as many consider Hornung the greatest all-around football player in Notre Dame history.  Hornung also played basketball during his sophomore year at Notre Dame.  He has said that he attended Notre Dame in part for the opportunity to play basketball….and that he was asked not to continue playing in order to help keep his grades up.

 

NCAA Football & NFL – 1954 To 1967 – NFL Films – “Paul Hornung: Top 10 Heisman Trophy Winners In NFL”
 

At the 1957 College All Star game in August in Chicago, Hornung had a famous match race with Abe Woodson.  Woodson said, “We had Jim Brown, Jim Parker, John Brodie, Jon Arnett, Len Dawson, Paul Hornung, and Tommy McDonald, with Curly Lambeau and Otto Graham as our coaches, and we still lost 22-7 to the New York Giants. Oh, well.”  Just for fun, Woodson, one of the fastest players ever to put on pads, and Hornung agreed to a 100-yard (91 m) match race…..which Hornung won by five yards.

NFL – 1960 – Silent Highlights – Paul Hornung Leads The Packers In Mud And Rain Over The SF 49’ers

After graduating from Notre Dame with a degree in business, Hornung was the 1st selection overall in the 1957 NFL Draft…..as he was taken by the Green Bay Packers….with whom he went on to win four league championships, including the 1st Super Bowl in January 1967….but  Hornung was the only Packer on the roster who did not play in Super Bowl I…..as a result of a pinched nerve which sidelined him….and he chose not to enter the game in the 4th quarter.

NFL – 1960 To 1969 – Green Bay Packers Legacy Documentary – “Lombardi Reigns: 1960 To 1969”

As a professional, Hornung played the halfback position as well as field goal kicker for several seasons. Hornung led the league in scoring for three straight seasons from 1959–61…..when during the 1960 season, the last with just 12 games, he set an all-time record by scoring 176 points….as he also passed for two additional TD’s…. which did not add to his point-scoring total….as the record stood until the 2006 season…..when running back LaDainian Tomlinson of the San Diego Chargers broke the record with 180 points by scoring his 30th touchdown on December 17….which left him with four points more than Hornung’s record with more than two games to play (but in his 14th game, compared to Hornung’s 12 games).

NFL – 1960 – NFL Championship Game Highlights – Philadelphia Eagles Vs Green Bay Packers

In 1961, Hornung set the scoring record in an NFL championship game with 19 points. That record stood for 56 years until James White scored 20 points in Super Bowl LI.  In Green Bay’s 1965 championship win, he rushed for 105 yards and a touchdown on a very muddy field against the Cleveland Browns.   In October of that same year, he set a record for most points in a calendar month with 77. This was also broken by Tomlinson….who posted 78 points in November 2006.  Hornung was voted the league’s Most Valuable Player in 1961….and was chosen as an All-Pro twice….while being named to the Pro Bowl twice…..plus, he is one of only nine players to have won both the Heisman Trophy and the NFL’s Most Valuable Player Award…..as well as he is the only one to ever make a 50+ yard fair catch kick….which came in 1964 on September 13th at the end of the first half of the opener against rival (and defending champion) Chicago.

 

NFL – 1961 – NFL Championship Game – New York Giants Vs Green Bay Packers

In 1965 the 29 year-old Hornung scored a team-record five touchdowns (three rushing and two pass receptions) in a 42–27 road win over the Baltimore Colts on December 12th….but Hornung’s five TD’s were overshadowed by the record-tying six touchdowns scored by Chicago’s Gale Sayers later that same day against San Francisco at Wrigley Field…..however, the Packers’ victory over the Colts proved important for the Packers….as they wound up tied with the Colts in the Western Conference standings at season’s end….thus forcing an extra playoff game on December 26th….which the Packers won in overtime to advance to the NFL Championship.  In that NFL championship game against the Cleveland Browns on January 2nd, Hornung ran for 105 yards and a touchdown in the Packers’ 23–12 win for their 3rd league title under Lombardi.

NFL – 1965 – NFL Championship Highlights – Cleveland Browns Vs Green Bay Packers – NFL Films – “Elements of Victory”

A pinched nerve in Hornung’s neck severely curtailed his playing time in 1966…..as Hornung did not see action in Super Bowl I….when the Packers defeated the Kansas City Chiefs, 35–10…..and soon thereafter, Hornung was selected in the expansion draft by the New Orleans Saints….who later traded for Hornung’s backfield mate at Green Bay, Jim Taylor…..but Hornung never suited up for the Saints….as the neck injury forced him to retire during training camp. Taylor & Hornung were affectionately known as “Thunder & Lightning” by Packer fans of the early-to-mid 1960’s.

 

NFL – 1966 – Game of the Week – Green Bay Packers Vs Cleveland Browns – Featuring Paul Hornung

Hornung holds the record for most games with 30+ points (2)….the most games with 25+ points (3)….and the most games with 13 points in a season (8 games in 1960).  He also holds the dubious distinction of having missed an NFL record 26 field goals in a season, doing so in 1964.

 

NFL – 1966 – NFL Championship Game –  Green Bay Packers Vs Dallas Cowboys – NFL Films “One Big Play”

Hornung was elected to the College Football Hall of Fame in 1985….the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1986….and the Wisconsin Athletic Hall of Fame in 1990.  Also, the “Paul Hornung Award” is given out annually to the state of Kentucky’s top high school player.  Starting in 2010, an award named in Hornung’s honor is given out to the most versatile college football player in the nation.  Hornung’s # 5 was also unofficially retired by Lombardi on July 10, 1967….as there has not been a ceremony to have his number on the wall of retired numbers at Lambeau Field.

NFL – 1965 – NFL Western Conference Playoff Game Highlights – Baltimore Colts Vs Green Bay Packers – NFL Films – “Sudden Death”

Hornung was obliged to serve in the U.S. Army and he was called to active duty during the 1961 season….but he was able to get weekend passes to play on Sundays….when head coach Vince Lombardi was a friend of President John F. Kennedy….and a pass was arranged so Hornung could play in the NFL championship game against the New York Giants.

 

NFL – 1960’s – NFL Films Special – The Top 10 NFL Dynasties Of All Time – The Green Bay Packers

Sport magazine named Hornung the most outstanding player in the 1961 championship game….which led to a tax dispute that cemented the tax status of awards to athletes…..when Hornung was awarded a 1962 Chevrolet Corvette….but the car’s fair market value was not included on his tax returns for either 1961 or 1962.  Because it would have been impossible for Hornung to take possession of the Corvette in 1961….as the game was played on December 31st in Green Bay…. and the car was in a closed dealership in New York….so, it was determined that the car should have been included in income in 1962. More importantly for the athletic community, the court in Hornung v. Commissioner also determined that awards for achievement in the field of athletics do not fall under the exceptions provided under section 74(b) of the Internal Revenue Code….so, from this point on, it became impossible for athletes to exclude any awards they are given for athletics from their gross incomes.

NFL – 1960’s – NFL Network Presents – “America’s Game: The 1966 Green Bay Packers” – Narrated by Donald Sutherland

Hornung’s penchant for high-living proved disastrous when, in 1963, a major scandal erupted….when Hornung and another of the league’s top stars, defensive tackle Alex Karras of the Detroit Lions, were suspended from football indefinitely in April 1963 by commissioner Pete Rozelle for betting on NFL games and associating with undesirable persons.  Forthright in admitting to his mistake, Hornung’s image went relatively untarnished….and in 1964 his suspension, and Karras’s, were re-evaluated by the league and both were reinstated in March.

NFL – 1962 – Miller High Life Presents – Highlights of the 1962 Green Bay Packers Season

In a September 2006 interview with Bob Costas, Hornung stated that it was his belief that it was Lombardi’s constant lobbying of Rozelle that got him reinstated for the 1964 NFL season.  In exchange for Lombardi’s efforts, Hornung agreed not to have anything to do with gambling….to stay out of Las Vegas….and to even forgo attending the Kentucky Derby….which he had done annually.

NCAA Football – 1956 – Special – Heisman Trophy Winner Interview With Paul Hornung

Hornung was employed as a color analyst on Minnesota Vikings radio broadcasts from 1970 to 1974….as well as TVS WFL telecasts in 1974, CBS NFL telecasts from 1975 to 1979 and ABC Radio USFL broadcasts from 1983 to 1985.  He also worked as a sideline reporter for CBS’ coverage of Super Bowl XII.  Hornung did college play-by-play for TigerVision, LSU’s pay-per-view broadcasts in 1982 with ex-Green Bay Packers teammate Jim Taylor.  Hornung also performed color commentary for games on College Football on TBS in the early 1980’s.

NFL – 1957 To 1966 – Green Bay Packers Special – Top 5 Packer Running Backs of All Time – With Paul Hornung At # 5

During a radio interview on March 30, 2004, Hornung, speaking about the recent lack of football success at Notre Dame, said, “We can’t stay as strict as we are as far as the academic structure is concerned because we’ve got to get the black athletes. We must get the black athletes if we’re going to compete.”….but the response was immediate as the University replied, “We strongly disagree with the thesis of his remarks. They are generally insensitive and specifically insulting to our past and current African-American student-athletes.”  Famed former Notre Dame head coach Ara Parseghian also disagreed with Hornung, saying that Notre Dame did not lower admission standards for him.  Hornung said that he was not differentiating between races. “We need better ball players, black and white, at Notre Dame.”

NCAA Football & NFL – 2020 – Max’s Corner Special – “Remembering Paul Hornung: Autograph And Highlights Video”

Upon Rozelle’s retirement in 1989, Hornung wrote him a letter crediting him with promoting the NFL’s rise and for having been “the best commissioner of any [sports league].”  Hornung died from dementia at the age of 84 on November 13, 2020 in Louisville, Kentucky.

NFL & TV Ads – 1964 – Norelco Comfort Shave Commercial – With Green Bay Packers Jim Taylor + Bart Star + Paul Hornung

As I wind down this story of The Golden Boy….I realize how timely this story is being posted….as the great Paul Hornung just passed away a couple of months back in November 2020 at the age of 84 years old…..as The Golden Boy who became an inductee in The College Football Hall of Fame under the shadow of The Golden Dome at Notre Dame University….then he went on to become and inductee into the The Pro Football Hall of Fame after playing the better part of 10 years for The Green and Gold of the Green Bay Packers under the tutelage of the great Vince Lombardi….as he more than deserves his showcase story here at ImaSportsphile.

NFL – 1935 To 2020 – NFL Pro Football Hall of Fame Presents – Paul Hornung  

 

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