Paul Hornung, Midcentury Football’s ‘Golden Boy’, Is Dead at 84

Hornung was chosen by the Packers as the No. 1 overall pick in the 1957 N.F.L. draft.

The Packers, having floundered for many years, continued to struggle in Hornung’s first two pro seasons, but everything began to change in 1959, when Lombardi, formerly the Giants’ offensive coach, was named head coach at Green Bay.

Lombardi preached discipline, but Hornung, free-spirited as he was, became one of his favorites, and he installed him at left halfback, the key man in what became Green Bay’s signature play, the Packer sweep.

The offensive linemen — Jim Ringo at center, Jerry Kramer and Fuzzy Thurston at guard, Bob Skoronski and Gregg at tackle, and Ron Kramer or Gary Knafelc at tight end — along with fullback Jim Taylor, a superb runner in his own right — supplied the blocking. Hornung would run wide, then look for a hole, but he might also throw to receivers like Boyd Dowler and Max McGee, who was often his pal on the nightclub scene.

The Packers defeated the American Football League’s Kansas City Chiefs, 35-10, in the first Super Bowl, played at the Los Angeles Coliseum in January 1967, but by then Hornung had reached the end of his career. Hampered by arm and knee injuries, he didn’t play in the game. The New Orleans Saints selected him in the 1967 expansion draft, but he retired because of injury problems.

Playing his entire pro career in Packers’ green and gold, Hornung scored 760 points on 62 touchdowns, 190 points-after and 66 field goals. He gained 3,711 yards rushing and 1,480 yards on pass receptions.

He later invested in real estate and other business ventures, became a popular figure in Miller Lite beer commercials and broadcast college and pro football. He created a stir in a March 2004 interview with a Detroit radio station when he said that Notre Dame needed to ease its academic standards to “get the Black athlete.” A spokesman for Notre Dame called the remark “insulting.” Although Hornung expressed regret for the comment, he discontinued his broadcasts of his alma mater’s games for Westwood One radio, saying that “Notre Dame does not want me there.”

His wife, Angela (Cervilli) Hornung, also sued Riddell in 2016, citing the loss of Hornung’s companionship because of his disabilities. His first marriage, to Patricia Roeder, ended in divorce. He had no children from either marriage and no siblings. Complete information on his survivors was not immediately available.

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