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SBN Wisconsin Hall of Fame Nomination #2 - Paul Hornung

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My perception of Paul Hornung was almost mythical. I grew up hearing tales of the "Golden Boy" who won NFL championships with the Green Bay Packers, and the Heisman trophy at Notre Dame. It seemed like he had to be one of the all time greats, but there were certainly some blemishes on his career and there seems to be less talk about him today as we move farther away from the Lombardi era.

He came into the NFL in 1957 after becoming the only Heisman trophy to winner to have played on a losing team, and he was a bust in his first two seasons. While he did everything as a quarterback in college, it turned out he wasn't very fast and didn't have a good throwing arm. Later he was forced to sit out the 1963 season for gambling. He apologized, which I'm sure helped get him into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, but I expect it was also a reason why he was a finalist 11 times before he was finally enshrined. 

He could have become one of the great busts in Packers history, but he turned his career around under Vince Lombardi. John Eisenberg does a great job telling the story in his book That First Season. His career wasn't especially long, but his 1959 through 1961seasons were remarkable. His best season was in 1960 when he set an NFL scoring record with 176 points, including 15 TDs scored in 12 games. From John Maxymuk's book Packers By The Numbers:

His lack of foot-speed was not a great hindrance in Lombardi's dual-back, run-based offense that placed a greater emphasis on the ball carrier picking the right hole to "run to daylight"...The other factor that made him perfect for Lombardi's offense was his ability to run the halfback option play. The defense not knowing whether Paul would run or throw made Lombardi's favorite play, the power sweep, that much more effective.