Paul Hornung of the Green Bay Packers
I know in the era of the great Green Bay Packers teams that won so many championships, people tend to automatically include the well known players in the Hall of Fame argument. But after examining hornung's contributions to those teams, we have to wonder why every other member of the Packers from that era—and half the running backs in the league—aren't in the HOF too.
Hornung was the poster boy for football in his day: Everybody's All American, the face of Notre Dame football, and the overall No. 1 draft pick in 1957. But Hornung not only never led the league in rushing (or many other statistical categories) but he only led his own team in rushing on one occasion. He did lead the league in rushing TDs in 1960 (13) but trailed his own teammate, Jim Taylor, by a whopping 430 yards. Taylor had eleven rushing TDs that season by the way, and Hornung was inexplicably on the All Pro team instead of him.
Hornung's career high in rushing yards came in 1959 when he was eighth in the league with 681 yards and seven touchdowns. That was back when a season consisted of 12 regular season games, which gave him an average of 57 rushing yards per game. That number wouldn't be impressive in any era, let alone the rush-happy era of pro football in the late 50s and early 60s. In fact, he only averaged 412 yards and 5.5 TDs per season in his nine year career.
Nine seasons, two Pro Bowls, two All Pro teams, and a member of four championship teams. But I think the handsome, blond, boy-next-door got a little too much credit for his teams' successes.
Hornung is in the HOF because of image and association with championships. A great coach, a great defense, and a high profile. This is starting to look like a trend on the "undeserving" list.
Shouldn't the HOF be more about the individual than the team?
After all, it's a bust of the player that goes on display in the big orange juicer, right?
Maybe his induction year (1986) was a slow year, I don't know.
Am I off base?
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