Even before he arrived in Green Bay, Paul Hornung was known as 'The Golden Boy.' And golden he was for the Packers over his nine-year career.
One of the most versatile players in team history, Hornung was an NFL MVP award-winner (1962) and member to three NFL championship teams (1961, '62 and '65). More than 35 years after his retirement, he remains the NFL single-season record holder for points scored (176).
The Packers acquired Hornung by selecting him with the first overall pick -- their 'bonus choice' -- of the 1957 NFL Draft. Hornung was coming off a senior season at Notre Dame that was so impressive that the national media looked past the 2-8 record of the Irish in awarding him with the Heisman Trophy.
Primarily a quarterback in college, the 6-foot-2, 215-pound Hornung made his reputation in the NFL as halfback under head coach Vince Lombardi. But as talented as he was carrying the football, Hornung remained dangerous with his arm and was an outstanding lead blocker, receiver and kicker.
One of only four players in Packers history to score more than 600 points, Hornung finished his career with 760 points on 62 touchdowns, 66 field goals and 190 extra points.
Hornung was the Packers' leading rusher his first two seasons in the league until Jim Taylor began compiling 1,000-yard campaigns in 1960. But if Hornung was forced to share the spotlight with his backfield mate, his value to the team was unmatched.
For three straight seasons (1959-61), Hornung led the NFL in scoring. His best effort was in 1960, when he scored 176 points (15 touchdowns, 15 field goals, 41 extra points).
Hornung also passed for two touchdowns that season, meaning he had a hand in 188 points for the year -- an average of 15.6 per game.
In 1961, Hornung was just off his record scoring pace of the previous season, tallying a league-best 146 points (10 touchdowns, 15 field goals, 41 extra points), plus one passing touchdown. Hornung won the NFL MVP award that season, but, remarkably, was left out of the Pro Bowl.
Hornung almost missed out on the Packers' NFL Championship game, too, that season, but for altogether different reasons. Called to duty by the Army, it took a call from Lombardi to President John F. Kennedy to see that Hornung was granted leave for the title game against the New York Giants.
Said Kennedy in arranging the leave, "Paul Hornung isn't going to win the war on Sunday, but the football fans of this country deserve the two best teams on the field that day."
Hornung's presence assured that the Packers were at their best, and the Golden Boy scored 19 points -- an NFL title game record -- on one rushing touchdown, three field goals and four PATs in the 37-0 drubbing.
In 1965, Hornung's single-game heroics continued when he scored five touchdowns against the Baltimore Colts, the same team the Packers went on to face in the NFL Championship game when Hornung's 13-yard touchdown run helped seal a 23-12 win.
A consensus pick in 1960, Hornung earned Associated Press All-Pro Honors three times (1959-61) and was a two-time Pro Bowler (1959, '60).
Hornung wore jersey number 5 during his Packers career.
Hornung was selected by the New Orleans Saints in the 1967 expansion draft, but never played a game for the team.
Paul Vernon Hornung was born December 23, 1935, in Louisville, Ky.
Hornung's Career Stats courtesy of Elias Sports Bureau:
From The Archives:
A letter from Vince Lombardi to Paul Hornung - May 14, 1959
Congratulations on your fine performance in the Notre Dame "Old Timers" game last Saturday. I was very pleased to hear of your fine performance, and am looking forward to being associated with you in Green Bay this fall.
I would like you to report to Green Bay on Monday, July 13, 1959. With the installation of a new system for the Packers, it is imperative that we get off to a good start and I expect you to report in top physical condition. We will start running immediately and I suggest that you report to training camp at a maximum of 207 pounds. You will be heavy enough at that weight and the left halfback in my system must have speed in order to capitalize on the running pass option play. ...
Looking forward to seeing you in July, I am,Sincerely,