Hornung lights up scoreboard

Updated: December 29, 2006, 10:53 AM ET
By Ron Flatter | Special to ESPN.com

Signature Game
Dec. 31, 1961 - After going 11-3 in the regular season to win the Western Conference for the second straight season, Paul Hornung and the Green Bay Packers were back in the NFL championship game they had lost last year.

But it didn't appear as if Hornung would be able to play against the New York Giants because he -- along with linebacker Ray Nitschke and wide receiver Boyd Dowler -- had been activated into the National Guard because of the Berlin crisis. That's when the friendship between Packers coach Vince Lombardi and President John F. Kennedy came into play.

Lombardi, according to his son Vince Jr., called up the President to have him speak to Hornung's commanding officer to let him out for the game. Soon, Hornung -- as well as Nitschke and Dowler -- was back in Green Bay.

Although he had just one practice, the Golden Boy was sterling. He scored the game's first points on a six-yard run in the second quarter that triggered a 24-point Green Bay onslaught before halftime. By day's end, Hornung kicked field goals of 17, 22 and 19 yards and made all four of his conversion attempts to give him 19 points, still a championship game record.

In winning the first of his four titles as a pro, Hornung was named the MVP of the Packers' 37-0 victory.

Hornung's Rushing by the Numbers
Year Team G Att Yards Avg TDs
1957 Green Bay 12 60 319 5.3 3
1958 Green Bay 12 69 310 4.5 2
1959 Green Bay 12 152 681 4.5 7
1960 Green Bay 12 160 671 4.2 13
1961 Green Bay 12 127 597 4.7 8
1962 Green Bay 9 57 219 3.8 5
1964 Green Bay 14 103 415 4.0 5
1965 Green Bay 12 89 299 3.4 5
1966 Green Bay 9 76 200 2.6 2
NFL Totals 104 893 3,711 4.2 50

  • Bold numbers indicate league leader

    Hornung's Scoring by the Numbers
    Year Team Pts. FG FGA FG% XK XKA Tot. TD
    1957 GB 18 0 4 0 0 0 3
    1958 GB 67 11 21 52.4 22 23 2
    1959 GB 94 7 17 41.2 31 32 7
    1960 GB 176 15 28 53.6 41 41 15
    1961 GB 146 15 22 68.2 41 41 10
    1962 GB 74 6 10 60.0 14 14 7
    1964 GB 107 12 38 31.6 41 43 5
    1965 GB 0 0 0 -- 0 0 8
    1966 GB 0 0 0 -- 0 0 5
    NFL Total 760 66 140 47.1 190 194 62

  • Bold numbers indicate league leader

    Odds 'n' Ends

  • Hornung was an all-around athletic standout at Flaget High School in Louisville, a Catholic boys' school that also produced future coaching star Howard Schnellenberger.

  • While at Notre Dame, Hornung played one season of basketball. He averaged 6.1 points per game as a sophomore in 1954-55 and earned a varsity block as a guard/forward.

  • When Hornung won the Heisman Trophy in 1956, he led 2-8 Notre Dame in rushing, passing, scoring, kickoff and punt returns, punting, playing time and passes broken up. He was second on the team in tackles and interceptions.

  • Hornung scored 94 points (seven touchdowns, seven field goals and 31 extra points) when he won his first NFL scoring title in 1959.

  • When Hornung scored his NFL record 176 points in 1960, he also threw two touchdown passes, meaning he had a hand (and/or foot) in 188 points.

  • The Baltimore Colts were the only team to hold him without a touchdown in 1960. Hornung managed only five extra points against them in a 35-21 Packers' victory.

  • Hornung led the NFL in touchdowns once in his NFL career, when he scored 15 in 1960 to tie him with Sonny Randle of the St. Louis Cardinals.

  • Against IRS objections, Hornung said the Corvette he won for being MVP of the 1961 championship game was non-taxable as an award for "educational, artistic, scientific and civic achievements." The tax court was amused but unbending.

  • Hornung is one of only four players to lead the NFL in scoring at least three seasons. The others are Don Hutson (five years), Dutch Clark (three) and Pat Harder (three).

  • After learning in mid-March 1964 that his suspension for gambling was lifted, Hornung called Vince Lombardi and suggested he arrive for spring training in May, right after the Kentucky Derby. The coach said April 15. "So we compromised," Hornung said. "I was there April 15."

  • Even after the gambling scandal, Hornung was not exactly a perfect NFL citizen. Well-known as a curfew-pushing night owl, Hornung was fined twice by Vince Lombardi for violating team rules in 1964, a year in which he made only 12 of an NFL-high 38 field-goal attempts.

  • Hornung was one of the many players who had become the focal point of the war between the NFL and AFL in the mid-sixties. AFL commissioner Al Davis had targeted in 1966 a handful of NFL players, including Hornung, who reportedly was bound for the New York Jets. All these signings became moot when the AFL-NFL merger was announced later that year.

  • Hornung has a Super Bowl ring, although he did not play in the first game NFL-AFL championship game. He was injured as the Packers beat the Kansas City Chiefs, 35-10, in January 1967.

  • He hosted the nationally syndicated "Paul Hornung's Sports Legends" for a year and a half.

  • Hornung was enshrined into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1985 and the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1986.

  • In 2004, Hornung stepped down from the Westwood One Radio booth on Notre Dame games because of a flap over his comments that the school should lower its academic standards to recruit black athletes.

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