Former Green Bay Packers great and Pro Football Hall of Fame tailback Paul Hornung passed away on Friday in his hometown of Louisville, Kentucky, after a battle with dementia. Hornung was 84.
“The Green Bay Packers Family today is mourning the loss of Paul Hornung,” said Packers President/CEO Mark Murphy. “Paul was one of our special alumni whose mere presence in Lambeau Field electrified the crowd during his returns. His performances in big games were unparalleled and over time were appreciated by generations of Packers fans. He played a key role in four of Vince Lombardi’s championship teams of the 1960’s.
“With Paul’s passing, we are deeply saddened that we continue to lose our greats from the Lombardi era, a run of unprecedented success in the National Football League.
“We extend our deepest condolences to Paul’s wife, Angela, and his family and friends.”
Hornung led the NFL in scoring in 1959, 1960 and 1961 and set a league record by scoring 176 points in 1960 (12-game season), a record which stood until 2006, when the season was 16 games. The Chargers’ LaDainian Tomlinson broke the record with 186 points in 2006. He was named the Associated Press MVP in 1961 and was also named MVP of the 1961 NFL Championship game.
“Paul Hornung is the greatest player I’ve ever coached, and the greatest I’ve ever seen on the football field within the 20-yard line,” said Vince Lombardi in 1967, after the Saints selected Hornung in the expansion draft. “He was more than just a player, he was like a son to me.”
Hornung was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1986, but he didn’t get in until his 15th year of eligibility after he was suspended for gambling in 1963.
Hornung played collegiately at Notre Dame where he won a Heisman Trophy as a senior. That year, the quarterback led the Fighting Irish in rushing, passing and scoring, as well as punting, kickoff and punt returns, and passes defensed.
Hornung became the fourth Lombardi Legend to pass away this year alone. Willie Wood, Willie Davis and Herb Adderley all passed away earlier in the year.