Nov. 13 (UPI) — Paul Hornung, who starred for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish in the 1950s and the Green Bay Packers in the 1960s, died Friday at age 84 after a lengthy battle with dementia.
“The Green Bay Packers family today is mourning the loss of Paul Hornung,” Packers president and CEO Mark Murphy said in a statement. “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 1960s. … We extend our deepest condolences to Paul’s wife, Angela, and his family and friends.”
Hornung, born Dec. 23, 1935, in Louisville, Ky., won the Heisman Memorial Trophy in 1956 while playing for a Notre Dame team that posted a 2-8 record.
In becoming the only player to win the award as a member of a losing team, he led the Irish in passing, rushing, scoring, kicking and punt returns, punting and passes broken up. The two-time All-American also ranked second in tackles and interceptions.
The Packers selected Hornung with the No. 1 overall pick in the 1957 NFL Draft. He helped guide the struggling organization to the 1960 NFL title game, a 17-13 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles.
In that 1960 campaign, Hornung accounted for a league-record 176 points — by way of touchdowns, field goals and extra points — a mark that stood for 46 years. Former Chargers running back LaDainian Tomlinson broke Hornung’s scoring record in 2006 with 186 points on 31 touchdowns.
Hornung went on to win five championships, including Super Bowl I, as a member of the Packers. He is a member of both the Pro Football Hall of Fame and College Football Hall of Fame.
“The entire Pro Football Hall of Fame family mourns the passing of Paul Hornung,” said David Baker, the president and CEO of the Hall in Canton, Ohio. “He was an outstanding player and an incredible man.
“Known as ‘The Golden Boy,’ Paul was above all a leader to whom the Packers looked for the big plays in the big games — especially during the team’s dynasty years under coach Vince Lombardi in the 1960s. We will forever keep his legacy alive to serve as inspiration for future generations. The Hall of Fame flag will be flown at half-staff in Paul’s memory.”
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement Friday that Hornung “thrilled a generation of NFL fans with his versatility, athleticism and personality.” Goodell noted that Hornung was “instrumental in growing the popularity of the Packers and the National Football League.”
Hornung, who was named to the NFL’s All-Decade Team in the 1960s, finished his nine-year career with 760 points on 62 total touchdowns, 66 field goals and 190 extra points. The two-time Pro Bowl selection also recorded 3,711 rushing yards and 1,480 receiving yards.
Hornung is survived by his wife of 41 years, Angela. The Packers said a public celebration of his life will be held at a later date due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.