Behind the Bronze: Paul Hornung

10/25/2011


Only 267 bronze busts reside in the Hall of Fame Gallery inside the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio. They "immortalize" the greatest players, coaches, and contributors that this game has produced. Each week during the 2011 NFL Season we will sit down for a Q&A with one of these legends.

Paul Hornung, Class of 1986



Paul Hornung's Hall of Fame bio>>>

HOBBIES:
Well, I've always enjoyed playing golf but I have a bad hip now so I've kind of put that on hold for a while until I clear the problem up. And, naturally I'm from Louisville, Kentucky where horse racing is quite a big sport. I just bought a racehorse with Wayne Lucas. It's a well-bred yearling and hopefully it'll be racing next year. And, hopefully we'll be in the (Kentucky) Derby. And, I've named it Titletown 5.

LAST BOOK YOU READ:
I read David Maraniss book on Lombardi recently because I had to give a speech on it.

FAVORITE MUSIC:
Well, I like all kinds of music. I like country western, I like rock, I like modern stuff, the old stuff with Sinatra. I love The Eagles.

FAVORITE MOVIE:
Casablanca. In fact, I have the script in my office.

FAVORITE FOOD:
Fried chicken. My wife's very good with the fried chicken. We eat out two or three times a week. We like steak, we like fish. I'm pretty easy to take care of when it comes from food. We like all varieties.

FAVORITE NFL TEAM AS A CHILD:
It wasn't so much pro football when I was a kid. It was college. Around here when I was growing up, it was the Cleveland Browns. And, of course, they had those great teams with Otto Graham in the championship years. I was always a Bears fan when I went to Notre Dame, I loved Chicago.

WHY DID YOU PICK NO. 5?
All quarterbacks had single-digit numbers and they were assigned. I wore No. 20 in high school and I wanted to wear that but couldn't. They showed me the ones they had available and so I picked 5 and the guy asked me 'why'd you pick 5,' and I said 'it was DiMaggio's number!'

DID YOU HAVE ANY PRE-GAME SUPERSTITIONS?
Nope. None. Never did.

WHAT’S BETTER ABOUT THE NFL TODAY THAN WHEN YOU PLAYED?
The players are bigger, better; the game's faster. It's more specialized. I just think the game keeps progressing and gets better and better every year.

Watch: Paul Hornung recalls his favorite NFL moment.

WHAT WAS BETTER ABOUT THE NFL DURING YOUR CAREER THAN THE GAME TODAY?
We liked it because we're the only team that had 10 kids on our football team that are in the Hall of Fame. No other team in history has had 10.

FAVORITE ATHLETE EVER IN ANY SPORT?
When I was growing up it was Jim Thorpe that I read a lot about. The "Fabulous Five" (University of Kentucky) basketball team when I was a kid. I always loved Ralph Beard, a three-time All-American.

ONE PERSON WHO INFLUENCED YOU MOST IN LIFE?
My uncle, he's passed away. He was like my father. I never had a father in my lifetime. My mother raised me by herself and she really was my guiding light when I was young. She was a great lady. She made a lot of great decisions for me.

TOUGHEST PLAYER YOU FACED:
Oooh, Dick Butkus, by far. Butkus was the best football player I ever played against.  

WHAT MAKES YOU MOST PROUD ABOUT YOUR HALL OF FAME CAREER?
I think the way it happened. There were a couple of guys (on the selection committee) that really voted against me and they did it with vengeance. They were solicitors; sort of speak, in a negative way. And then there was a writer in Chicago who went up to them and stopped it. He said, 'you could vote against Hornung fine, but if I catch you soliciting votes against him from other people I'm going to kick your a**. That straightened them out."

WHEN IF EVER DID YOU REALIZE YOU MAY SOMEDAY MAKE THE HALL OF FAME?
I don't know. I never thought about it that much. When the years came by and I didn't get in, I said, 'so be it, that's what it is.'

DO YOU REMEMBER WHERE YOU WERE WHEN YOU LEARNED YOU'D BEEN ELECTED?
Nope.

WAS MAX McGee YOUR ONLY CHOICE AS A PRESENTER?
Yes. He always was. My two closest friends were Ron Kramer and Max McGee; those were my two closest pals. Of course, we’ve lost them both and that’s really sad. But, Max was my roommate for 10 years.

IF YOU COULD DO YOUR ENSHRINEMENT SPEECH OVER TODAY, WHAT WOULD YOU SAY DIFFERENTLY?
I don't think I'd say too much. I had my family there and who exactly I wanted to be present. I thanked Lombardi of course who if it were not for him I wouldn't be in the Hall of Fame, number one. And, I thanked my teammates. Who else is there to thank.

WHAT’S YOUR GREATEST ACCOMPLISHMENT OFF THE FOOTBALL FIELD?
I don't look at great accomplishments off the field. I've been very lucky in business I guess. We just sold our company to a company in Sweden which was very successful over there and ours was successful over here. It was a happy sale.

I'm 76 now and I just bought a new racehorse. And, I just came back from three days in Wisconsin. I went back up for the game last week when they honored the '61 team. It was a 50-year celebration of what I thought was our best team.
 


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