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Notre Dame Athletics | November 13, 2020

Paul Hornung, former Heisman Trophy winner and Notre Dame legend, dies

Notre Dame Athletics Paul Hornung poses with his Heisman Trophy

NOTRE DAME, Indiana — University of Notre Dame football legend Paul Hornung passed away today in his hometown of Louisville, Kentucky, at the age of 84. A Heisman Trophy winner, two-time All American, College Football and NFL Hall of Famer, Hornung left an indelible mark on college football, the National Football League and Notre Dame.

His 1956 football season with the Irish was a remarkable one, during which he completed 59 passes for 917 yards and three touchdowns, while also rushing 94 times for 420 yards. He finished the year with 1,337 yards of total offense and accounted for more than half of Notre Dame’s points. Hornung returned kickoffs, kicked extra points and intercepted a pair of passes as a safety, all en route to becoming Notre Dame’s fifth Heisman Trophy winner.

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Hornung, known throughout his career as ‘The Golden Boy,’ due to his blonde hair and handsome features, remains the only player from a losing team (Notre Dame finished 2-8 in ’56) ever to win the Heisman Trophy.

As a junior, he finished fourth nationally in total offense with 1,215 yards and fifth in the Heisman voting behind Ohio State’s Hopalong Cassady. Hornung ran for one score, threw for another and intercepted two passes in a victory over fourth-ranked Navy and then brought the Irish from behind against Iowa with a TD pass and game-winning field goal in the final minutes. In a loss to Southern Cal, he threw and ran for 354 yards, an NCAA high that year.

As a sophomore, Hornung served as the backup fullback and also averaged 6.1 points per contest while earning a basketball monogram.

The first overall pick of the 1957 NFL draft by the Green Bay Packers, Hornung would lead the NFL in scoring during the 1959, 1960 and 1961 seasons as a quarterback, running back and place kicker. He won four NFL Championships as a member of the Packers in 1961, ‘62, ‘65 and ‘66. A neck injury kept him out of the first Super Bowl in January of 1967, when the Packers defeated the Kansas City Chiefs.

That same neck injury forced Hornung into retirement after he was selected in the NFL expansion draft by the New Orleans Saints in 1966. Hornung spent much of his post-retirement days in the broadcast booth as an analyst for CBS, ABC radio, TBS and the Minnesota Vikings radio network. His voice can still be heard on the tape-delayed broadcasts of Notre Dame football for Notre Dame’s national championship season in 1966.

Hornung was selected to the National Football Foundation College Football Hall of Fame in 1985 and the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1986. There are currently two awards given out in his honor, as the Paul Hornung Award is presented to the top Kentucky high school football player and the Louisville Sports Commission has also presented the Paul Hornung Award to the most versatile player in college football since 2010.

Hornung was inducted into the Kentucky Sports Hall of Fame in 1975, National High School Hall of Fame in 1989 and the Wisconsin Athletic Hall of Fame in 1990. In 2012, he was inducted in the inaugural class of the Louisville Catholic Sports Hall of Fame.

Hornung is survived by his wife of 41 years, Angela.

Due to COVID restrictions, there will be a private funeral mass at St. Louis Bertrand Church in Louisville followed by a private burial in Cave Hill Cemetery. Owen Funeral Home-Jeffersontown will oversee services. A public celebration of his life will be held at a later date. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to the Norton Sports Health Athletics and Learning Complex via the Louisville Urban League, 1535 West Broadway, Louisville, Ky., 40203; or the Sister Visitor Center via Catholic Charities of Louisville, 2911 South Fourth Street, Louisville, Ky., 40208.

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