Accomplishments: Hall of Fame (1986), one-time NFL MVP; two-time Pro Bowler; two-time first-team All-Pro; NFL 1960s All-Decade Team; three NFL championships; two Super Bowls
Key stats: 893 attempts; 3,711 yards; 4.2 yards per carry; 50 rushing TD; 130 receptions; 1,480 yards; 12 TD; 190/194 PATs)
The case: The most controversial member on this list (not for his inclusion, but for his off-the-field exploits), there are those among us who would insist that “The Golden Boy” was, at the very least, the most talented player to ever don the green-and-gold.
And that very well could be true.
Listed at 6’2’’, 215 pounds, Hornung had the size to be a bruising back even today, with comparable size to the Packers’ current tailback, Ryan Grant, who stands 6’1’’, 222 pounds.
Except Hornung was possibly a better all-around athlete then the backs with that size in the modern game.
A three-sport standout in high school, Hornung spent time at quarterback, tailback, fullback, safety, and placekicker in South Bend (not to mention his sophomore year playing basketball as well), leading the Fighting Irish in passing, rushing, scoring, kick returning, and kicking in 1956—an exquisite effort that earned him the Heisman, the only player from a losing team to garner the honor.
After being taken with the No. 1 overall selection by Green Bay in the 1957 NFL Draft, Hornung’s versatility remained his strongest asset, as he put together a season unimaginable in today’s context.
In 1960, Hornung ran for 13 touchdowns, tacked on two more receiving, booted 15 field goals (out of 28) and nailed 41 out of 41 extra points—altogether good for 176 points, an NFL record that would stand until LaDainian Tomlinson found paydirt 31 times in 2006.
However, there are two things that limited Hornung in his career, and cap his ascendance on this list.
The first is his penchant for gambling, drinking, and generally carousing—activities that would earn him, along with Detroit Lions’ defensive tackle Alex Karras, a one-year suspension from the league (well, specifically it was the gambling, but none of those things helped his career).
The second was a pinched nerve in his neck that prevented Hornung from participating in the first ever Super Bowl and ultimately ended his great but relatively brief career.
While the highs of Hornung’s career couldn’t have been much higher, the objective assessment of his playing days shows he never carried the ball more than 160 times or caught more than 28 passes in a season.
If this was a list of greatest Packers’ seasons or moments, Hornung might be higher, but unfortunately for him, this is top 10 careers.