He resides in Louisville, Ky., but Hall of Fame halfback Paul Hornung isn't a stranger to his friends in Green Bay. He comes back to the area two or three times a year, often for player reunion weekends like this one, happy for a chance to "sit around with friends and tell lies to each other again."
Tuesday, Hornung was in Green Bay for a slightly different reason, chief among them to help promote the new book Magnificent Seven, for which he penned the forward.
Written by Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reporter Bud Lea, with photos from Vernon and John Biever, Magnificent Seven chronicles the Packers' seven championship games of the 1960s (five NFL Championship games, two Super Bowls). In addition to Hornung's forward, the book offers an introduction from Bart Starr and an afterword by Vince Lombardi, Jr.
"There have been many books written about Vince Lombardi (and his Packers teams), but this one is different," Hornung writes in the forward. "Bud Lea and Vernon Biever have combined their talents to make these championship games come to life. It was a time in my life I will treasure forever."
Although the Lombardi era ended officially in 1967, in Green Bay and in the minds of devoted Packers fans everywhere, the legend is still alive and well.
"Those days could never die, not up here," Hornung said Tuesday from the billiards room at Fuzzy's bar in Green Bay. "Packers fans will remember every burning moment of it. That's what's so unique about the Green Bay Packers and that's why this is going to be a popular book. There will be Packers fans buying the book from Oregon to Maine."
Hornung is right about the latter. Although only recently put to the shelves, publisher Triumph Books of Chicago has already ordered a second printing of Magnificent Seven.
"We had an initial printing of 15,000 and we went through those in a hurry," said Scott Rowan, a publicist for Triumph. "In our market, which is the sports nonfiction market, you just don't see a reaction like that. Other than Michael Jordan's Come Fly With Me, I can't remember seeing such an incredible nationwide response."
Green Bay was just one of many stops for Hornung this week, who at 66 still keeps on the move. After his evening in Titletown, it was off to New York, then back home to Louisville. Saturday he'll be in South Bend for the Notre Dame-Purdue football game, providing analysis for his alma mater.
One game into the college season, Hornung said he likes what he's seen out of Notre Dame's new head coach Tyrone Willingham.
"I think the players already respect what he stands for and the way he wants to play," Hornung said. "This is my 34th year with Notre Dame football and last Saturday (against Maryland) they played hard. I haven't seen them play that hard in a long time."
As much as the game has changed since he was a player, some things stay the same. Hornung thinks coaching is one of them. And for the same reasons he thinks Willingham could be successful at Notre Dame and Packers GM/Head Coach Mike Sherman will continue do well in Green Bay, he also believes that Lombardi would have been a winner in any era.
It's all about respect, he said.
"I think he would have won in any league, because he had a tremendous respect for winning -- it dominated his only thought," Hornung explained. "He taught us how to win and that's what you have to do, you have to know how to win."
In the forward for Magnificent Seven Hornung writes, "For eight years, Vince Lombardi was the most important man in my life. I respected him as a coach, a leader, and, more important, as a friend . . . I was very close to Lombardi, and the other players knew that. Whenever there was a problem on the team, the guys wanted me to go in and talk to him. They knew I could do this. But I never won an argument with him."
Magnificent Seven is available at bookstores nationwide, or at www.triumphbooks.com.