HOF Q&A - (2001) Week 6 Paul Hornung


Hall of Famer Q&A Archive

Week 6: Paul Hornung
Enshrined in 1986
(Notre Dame)
HALFBACK 6-2, 215
1957-1962, 1964-1966 Green Bay Packers

Heisman Trophy winner, All-America at Notre Dame. . .Bonus draft pick, 1957. . .Multi-talented clutch player, at best inside 20-yard line. . .NFL Player of Year, 1960, 1961. . .Led NFL scorers three years with record 176 points in 1960. . .Career stats: 3,711 yards rushing, 130 receptions, 760 points. . .Tallied record 19 points in 1961 NFL title game. . .Played in two Pro Bowls. . .Born December 23, 1935, in Louisville, Kentucky.


Paul…you hold so many different Packer and NFL records from your wonderful career. Which one do you treasure the most? - Troy Kuchta, Springfield, Missouri.
Well, I guess I would have to say the scoring record. In fact, I didn't even realize until about four years ago that this record was continuing on a long run. Somebody came up to me two or three years ago and said, 'Paul, do you realize that your record has lasted longer than Babe Ruth's?' And I said, 'no, you got to be crazy.' And, then I started thinking '27 to '61 - that's 34 years and my record is longer than that. So, I think I treasure the scoring record more than anything. And of course, someone also asked me 'how many games?' And I said, well we were in 12-game seasons so it's a little bit different that 16-game seasons. So, what the NFL has done - they told me last year that they're going to re-establish the record in a vain-like average points per game which mine was about 14.8 or 14.9. But, that's the record I really cherish and I enjoy having because it's lasted so long.

Vince Lombardi getting carried off Lambeau Field by fullback Jimmy Taylor, left, and Paul Hornung after winning the 1965 NFL championship.

Although Vince Lombardi was perhaps the greatest coach of all time, do you feel that his style of coaching would be successful with today's players? - Kyle Kaepernick
PH: Yeah, I really think that he would be successful in any day because basically he not only taught you how to win, he taught you the reason why you were doing things. You understood why you should do it a certain way and it wasn't a very complicated way. He brought back the old (virtues) where all you cared about was blocking and tackling. And, he figured if you were good in those two basic fundamentals that you could play with anybody. I really believe that the reason the Packers succeeded, especially offensively, I mean we went games and changed about 55 to 60% of the plays at the line of scrimmage. And, nobody missed the call, nobody blocked the wrong person. You know, it's almost unheard of that you could go that way. I mean, when I tell people that we played the Bears - forget the no-huddle - there was no play called until Bart got to the line of scrimmage and he looked over the defense and he called the play and the signal, and 'boom, you were off.' And nobody made a mental mistake on those plays against the Bears. And, I don't really believe that you could do that, the only reason you could do it back then is we had played together for seven or eight and ten years. Today, the one thing, I think, that takes over and goes against a dynasty sort of speak is because you have free agency. So when a player has three or four good years, if the team won't come to the expectations of their agent, hell they're on the market. They get on the market and they're gone. So, you don't get the teams with the nucleus of their players who played longer than three or four or five years with one particular team. They're gone through free agency. And you can't blame the players, hell - they're going to get a lot more money and you know, it's a very short career in pro football and you got to make it when the sun's out there.

Paul - How do think the great runners of your era (e.g. you, Jim Brown, Jim Taylor, Gale Sayers) compare against the runners of today? - Richard Ross Jacksonville, Florida (P.S. I lived in Green Bay 1958-1962 and never missed a game. You guys were special!)
Well, I think all of us would have had a job, let's put it that way. Jim Brown to me is still the best runner that's ever played. Of course, I'm a little bit prejudiced about my time. I thought Gale Sayers would have been the greatest runner in the history of the game. He only played 3½ years, you know, actually played five years but a year-and-a-half was on a real bad knee. He still gained a 1,000 yards when a 1,000 yards in a 12-game season was a benchmark. You go all the way back, some of the great runners - Hugh McElhenny for instance. A lot of people don't even remember who he was. He was one of the real truly great runners this league has ever seen. Now, Barry Sanders and your great ones - Emmitt Smith. I look at it like this way, I think we could have played in their era and they could have played in ours - all your good ones.

Dear Paul, I want to know what invaluable lessons you learned from Lombardi that has stuck throughout your playing career as well as life. Thanks Paul, you are still the Golden Boy of professional football. - Bill Hoffman, Prineville, Oregon
PH: Well, I think we all learned how to win and that's not only in football but outside of the game. And, that's what I really think he was all about. He taught us whatever we're doing, wherever we're doing it, you've got to do it with enthusiasm and you got to work harder than the other guy next to you and you've got to hang in there together. And, I told Pete Rozelle this, 'you really ought to do a random sample of the Packer players and the Pittsburgh Steelers players, and the San Francisco 49er players, because I think you'll find out that those players off those teams have done a lot better in business after they retired than the (players) on the other teams who had losing records. So, there's a reason that winning helps players after they've retired. Because most of them are disciplined. You get (players) off a winning team, they're more disciplined than the other players are. They take to authority. Look at Bill Parcells. Bill Parcells, I've always said, was one of the great coaches and he's tough-minded and you do it his way. That's the way Lombardi would have been in this era too. He would have been the boss and he would have been the highest paid (person) in the organization. He really felt that he should have been and he was. It didn't matter what the players made - we didn't make the type of salaries that they throw around today. It would have been very interesting to see Lombardi (today) - I don't know what he would have asked for as a salary was concerned. If he's general manager and coach of the Packers and he had to sign Brett Favre for 13 or 14 million dollars, I firmly believe, that he'd ask for a dollar more.


Hello Mr. Hornung and thanks for the great memories! A lot of people today say that players from the 1950s and 60s wouldn't be able to make it in the NFL today because they're not big enough, quick enough, etc. Please think back to the great Packer teams coached by Vince Lombardi. Which players from that era do you think would still scare their opponents in today's NFL? - Frank Goza, Bowling Green, Ohio
PH: We were unusual. We had eleven kids off that team that go into the Hall of Fame, they could have played any time. But, here's the way I look at it, the players are bigger, they're stronger, they're not particularly faster individually, they might be faster as a group. But, here's the thing that a lot of people don't understand. I played when there was only twelve teams and there's 32 players on a team - so there's 380 jobs period in professional football. So, you're third team - let's take the quarterbacks, you're third-team quarterbacks - I mean, here's a losing football team and we had Babe Parilli, Lamar McHan, and Bart Starr off a team that couldn't win. And those are three quarterbacks that in today's world with (31) teams, hell, they would be starting for half the teams in the NFL. Every team was like that because there was only 36 jobs to go around - do you know how many jobs go around today? There's 31 franchises and there's 54 slots. There's over 1,600 jobs as to compared to fighting for 320 back 20 and 30 years ago. And, now if you'd take pro football today and knock it back down to 12 teams you'd see the best games that have ever been involved out on the field. Then, you would have the best players playing together. You got players today, what the hell I could make it as a quarterback in today's league. We've got some very poor football players playing in the National Football League. Oh yeah, we've got some great ones - there's no question about that - you know Emmitt Smith, Brett Favre, and Kurt Warner, and Marshall Faulk. Yeah, that's fine, we had those type of players too. But, you had to compete a hell of a lot more back then for a job than you do today. With 1,500 jobs out there, it's pretty easy to make an NFL roster.

Who would you want to play yourself in a movie about the 1960's Green Bay Packers? - Brett Deacon
PH: You know, that's funny you'd ask that because we had the Lombardi Legends meeting, we're forming a foundation for charity called Lombardi's Legends. And, the producer of 'Blow' - the last movie - that just became a very popular movie the last couple of months. The producer was up there along with the writer who wrote "Rudy". And they were looking around and toying with the idea of doing a movie on the seven championship games of the Green Bay Packers. And I went up to the producer and I said, 'I won't give you consent to use my name in this movie unless Brad Pitt played me.' So he said, 'would you play that in a camera because he's a good friend of mine and I'd love to play that back to him.' So, we did, we put that on film and he's going to show Brad Pitt that.

Some of your chronicled off field antics didn't exactly endear you to Coach Lombardi. Yet, the two of you were very close. Do you feel you could have been as successful of a player if you played under a different, perhaps a more lenient coach? - Jeff Maas, Fort Myers, FL
PH: No, I don't think I would have been as successful. Because, I need my ass to be kicked and he knew that. And, he told me, 'I'm going to push you because you need to be pushed.' And, of course Max (McGee) and I - when we left the Packers, you know what he (Lombardi) said to me? He said, 'You know, I really miss you two guys. He said, 'nobody else breaks the rules for heaven sakes. There's nobody I've got to fine, I've got no discipline out there, I can't bitch at anybody any more.' So, I think he missed that a little bit. But, we were very close, there was no question about it. And, I've always said I wouldn't have played - I was about ready to retire and go into business in real estate my third year in professional football. And, he arrived and really gave me the incentive to play the other seven years.<<b />Hall of Famer

Q&A Archive:

Week 1: Frank Gifford
Week 2: Lem Barney
Week 3: Willie Lanier
Week 4: Ken Houston
Week 5: Mike Ditka

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