In Super Bowl’s Afterglow, Let’s Remember All-Time Great Paul Hornung

This 1957 Topps Paul Hornung trading card #151, PSA Mint 9, realized $28,800 at a February 2017 auction.

By Jim O’Neal

Super Bowl I was played on Jan. 15, 1967, in the L.A. Memorial Coliseum (yes, I was there) and the Green Bay Packers (NFL) defeated the Kansas City Chiefs (AFL) in a lopsided game, 35-10.

The only player on the Green Bay roster who did not play was the all-time great Paul Hornung, due to a pinched neck nerve.

Hornung was an all-around player that Coach Vince Lombardi had labeled “the most versatile player in football.” He played halfback (primarily), but also quarterback and placekicker (field goals and PAT).

In 1960 (the last year of 12-game seasons), he set the single season scoring record of 176 points … a record that lasted 46 years until 2006, after the league had extended the season to 14 games. The following year, 1961, he set the NFL record for most points scored (19) in an NFL Championship game.

Later in his career, he became the oldest player to score five touchdowns in a single game (29 years and 354 days old).

But it all really got started at Notre Dame, where he also played basketball. In 1956, he won the Heisman Trophy despite playing on a mediocre team. Mighty Notre Dame was 2-8 that year and Hornung was the only player to win the Heisman with a losing team. Many consider Hornung the greatest all-around player in Notre Dame history.

The Heisman Trophy was named in honor of John Heisman, who was a coach at Georgia Tech when the team beat Cumberland College 222-0 in 1916. In that game, kicker Jim Preas had 16 straight point-after-touchdowns, a single game record. Sportswriter Grantland Rice wrote, “Cumberland’s finest play was when halfback Allen circled right end for a 6-yard loss.”

Back to Paul Hornung. As a player, he was the first (only?) to win the Heisman, be drafted first in the NFL, win the NFL MVP, and then be inducted into the High School, College and NFL halls of fame.

He also had a great sense of humor. He often said, “Never get married in the morning. You just never know who you might meet that night.” However, he did get married in the morning and when asked about it replied, “Well, if it didn’t work out, I didn’t want to blow the whole day.”

P.S. Hornung and Alex Karras were suspended for a year in 1963 for alleged gambling. Commissioner Pete Rozelle ran a tight ship.

Jim O'NielIntelligent Collector blogger JIM O’NEAL is an avid collector and history buff. He is President and CEO of Frito-Lay International [retired] and earlier served as Chairman and CEO of PepsiCo Restaurants International [KFC Pizza Hut and Taco Bell].