Golden Boy talks to Our Guy about Bears-Packers rivalry


Jun 2, 2005
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By Steve Rosenbloom
Published December 1, 2005

Lombardi once said I was the best clutch player he'd ever seen. That's pretty strong.

Probably the greatest thing that's ever been said about me is when Halas used to cuss me out. I enjoyed that more than anything that's ever been written about me. I can't tell you what he said. It was brutal. The worse you got cursed out, the better you were respected. That's the way I looked at it.

The great game for me is when I walked off the field when we beat the Bears in the first game in 1965 and I told Gale Sayers, "You hang in there and do the right things, and you'll be the greatest back in the history of this league." I really thought that.

Butkus was the best. He was mean and ornery. Vince didn't think he was that good at the beginning. The first game, he said he was too big, too slow getting to the hole. He said we'll have an easy time running the sweep against this guy. Taylor and I were leading the league in rushing in those years as a twosome. Jimmy would run the ball 25 times; I'd run it about 12 or 13. That game, his first game, Taylor ran the ball 26 times and picked up 32 yards. I ran the ball about 14 times or something and picked up 31 yards. Butkus made 27 unassisted tackles. He broke up two or three passes, and Vince apologized. He said, "This guy must be special." Nobody could block him. And, of course, he did turn out to be special.

Nobody's happy about what's happened up there. (1) When you're going bad, everything happens bad. They lost a few people, then they lost a few more. I don't even know if Brett knows the people he's playing with. You have to introduce yourself to the players every other week.

The Bears have a good defense and might surprise somebody. They're starting to make a few plays. If the Packers can't make it, I sure hope the Bears do.

My dad and mother were divorced when I was about a year old. We lived in New York. My mom moved back home with me. My dad went up and down the ladder. The drinking got to him. He became an alcoholic. Lived to be about 67 or 68. He was always respectful of me. But it's a shame when you have a son who plays sports and you never see him play. But I don't think he wanted to embarrass me. He thought it might be embarrassing if he showed up at any of the games. He never went to any of my games in high school, college or pro. It's kind of sad.

I'll tell you what I did. I gave it (2) back to Notre Dame first. They wanted all the trophies back. About a year and a half after that, they ordered all the trophies from the Heisman people and gave us the trophies back because my mother was very, very peeved that I gave that trophy up. She got the trophy back. She was very happy about it.

She passed away, so I got the trophy. So I gave the trophy to a guy in New Jersey, and he gave me $250,000, and I gave the money to Notre Dame to start a scholarship fund in Louisville. I've got four kids at Notre Dame right now. Probably the best thing I've ever done, as far as that was concerned.

All I would've had to do would be say "and whites" with my comments because they don't treat them any different. (3) I just felt we were on an unlevel recruiting field, and I wanted to try to get it straight.

That's ridiculous -- "a racist." I was one of the ones who helped the cause along, for heaven's sake, when I was playing. I wish Elijah Pitts were alive. He'd rip your heart out if somebody said I was a racist.

Jim Brown and I graduated the same year. We started our careers the same year. Jim said: "Hornung, years ago, we had to watch what we said. Now it's your turn."

I live in Louisville, Ky. I still do a lot of personal appearances, speeches, and do a lot of work for Ford Motor Co. throughout the year. I have a soybean refinery here with three other guys. I've got some real estate holdings.

I feel good. I'll be 70 on Dec. 23. My voice is raspy. That's why I quit doing my television show.

I spent half my net worth on Rush Street. Man, I loved Chicago.

Here are a couple of shots that will live in Packer lore forever.

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Dec. 31, 1961: Packers Rip Giants, 37-0, As Pvt. Hornung Scores 19 Points

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Vince Lombardi's first NFL title as coach of the Green Bay Packers

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Packers coach Vince Lombardi is carried off the field by Jim Taylor (left) and Paul Hornung
after the Packers' victory in the Jan. 2, 1966: '65 NFL Title vs. Browns .

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