Packers' 'Golden Boy' Was a Scoring Threat 4 Ways

Hall of Famer Paul Hornung won series of championships under Vince Lombardi
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Nov 13, 2020 5:40 PM CST
Packers Star Paul Hornung Could 'Smell That Goal Line'
Paul Hornung in 2011.   (AP Photo/Brian Bohannon)

Paul Hornung, the dazzling "Golden Boy" of the Green Bay Packers whose singular ability to generate points as a runner, receiver, quarterback and kicker helped turn the team into an NFL dynasty, died Friday. He was 84 and lived in Louisville, the AP reports. "Paul was above all a leader to whom the Packers looked for the big plays in the big games—especially during the team’s dynasty years under coach Vince Lombardi in the 1960s," the Pro Football Hall of Fame said. Hornung teamed with bruising fullback Jim Taylor for one of the NFL’s greatest backfields. But Hornung was also a force as a passer, blocker, receiver, and kicker. He finished his nine-year career with 760 points on 62 touchdowns, 66 field goals and 190 extra points. In July 2016, Hornung sued equipment manufacturer Riddell, saying football helmets he wore during his professional career failed to protect him from brain injury. Hornung suffered multiple concussions with the Packers and had been diagnosed with dementia, the lawsuit said.

Hornung won the 1956 Heisman Trophy at Notre Dame. He was the NFL MVP in 1961 and played on four championship teams—1961, ’62, ‘65 and ’66. Hornung and another of the league’s top stars, Detroit's Alex Karras, were suspended for 1963 by Commissioner Pete Rozelle for betting on NFL games and associating with undesirable persons. They returned to the NFL the next year. Hornung won the Heisman as a quarterback. But he switched to halfback in the pros and was one of the NFL's most dynamic players in Green Bay. The blond, fun-loving Hornung was a favorite of Lombardi, who thought of the young star as a son and singled him out for praise and chastisement. Frequent fines for missing curfew were forgiven once the game started, especially when the dashing No. 5 got close to the end zone. Hornung led the NFL in scoring for three straight seasons. "In the middle of the field he may be only slightly better than an average ballplayer,” Lombardi once said, “but inside the 20-yard line he is one of the greatest I have ever seen. He smells that goal line."

(More obituary stories.)

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