The stories have the feel of mythology. "But they're all true," says McGee. "Those and a whole lot of others, probably worse. And Lombardi knew where all of us were at all times. But with Paul, especially, he didn't make a lot of noise, because he liked Paul and Paul was such a money player."
In more ways than one. Hornung was suspended for the 1963 season by commissioner Pete Rozelle after admitting that he had bet on NFL games. The suspension is an ugly part of Hornung's legacy, yet in Hornung's mind it could have been much worse had he not stared down Rozelle in their meetings. " Rozelle had me, and I knew he had me," Hornung says. "But I told him, 'Pete, we both know that other guys are betting. I know who they are, and I am not answering questions about anybody else. But if I go to Washington [where a Senate subcommittee was investigating gambling] and raise my right hand, this whole league is in trouble.' " Hornung says he wasn't bluffing, and Rozelle blinked. Hornung took his suspension. Detroit Lions defensive tackle Alex Karras was also suspended. ("He was stupid," Hornung says. "They didn't have anything on him, but he confessed anyway.") It helped the league avoid a larger scandal.
Three years later Hornung was all but finished. A neck injury first sustained when Tom Brookshier of the Philadelphia Eagles drilled him in the 1960 NFL Championship Game was made worse when the Bears' Doug Buffone clotheslined him in the 10th game of the '66 season. Eight weeks later Hornung was the only Packer who didn't play in Super Bowl I. " Lombardi asked me if I wanted to go in for a few plays just to say I played," Hornung says. "I said, 'Nah.' " About a month later New Orleans took Hornung in the expansion draft. But he never played a down for the Saints; he retired before the season started.
More than 30 years later Hornung sits in a booth at the Delta Restaurant and Lounge, an old-fashioned businessman's lunch joint in downtown Louisville. He orders a ham steak sandwich—"With yellow mustard; make sure it's yellow, not brown," he barks good-naturedly at a waitress he calls "Kid"—and wolfs it down. Hornung has been eating at the Delta for years. "Same people, every day," he says. "In and out in half an hour, and they make a good little sandwich. Nothing fancy." A thirtysomething man dressed in a sharp business suit passes by. "My stockbroker," says Hornung. "I just switched to him a little while ago because he's young and he likes to gamble, and so do I. The stock market. That's legal gambling for the Horn."
Money has never been a problem. Back in the late '50s, when Hornung didn't know if his pro football career would last two seasons or 10, he sent all his paychecks home to a family friend, Henry Hoffmann, who began investing in real estate in the Louisville area. Hornung now owns a building with more than 600 apartments, ground leases on many businesses and, with Leonard Lyles, a former Baltimore Colts and San Francisco 49ers defensive back who also grew up in the west end, a shopping center. Along with the estate of his late friend and partner Frank Metts, Hornung is also part owner of Golden Foods/Golden Brands, a vegetable-and soybean-oil company in Louisville that Hornung says did more than $175 million in sales last year and counts Frito-Lay and McDonald's among its customers. Recently he had 2,000 Paul Hornung bobblehead dolls made and, much to his amazement, more than half of them have sold.
"He's got great business instincts," says Bob Stallings, Hornung's Louisville attorney. "He's had a few losers, but his winners far outnumber his losers."
Hornung was among the first wave of pro football players to move directly from the field to the broadcast booth, working first for a CBS affiliate in Chicago for two years and then for 11 more seasons doing NFL games for the network. He has been a part of Notre Dame broadcasts for 33 years, the last two as host of the pregame and halftime radio shows. "Best job in TV or radio," Hornung says. He remains passionately involved with his alma mater. He has missed only a handful of games in three decades, has pledged more than $500,000 to the school and has endowed those scholarships. Yet he hasn't been afraid to criticize Notre Dame's football program.
Example 1: "The whole [George] O'Leary thing was absolutely ridiculous. In the first place they should have been able to hire a better coach. And how do you let the r�sum� thing happen? That's Kevin White's mistake. He's the athletic director."
Example 2: "They've got to do something about the academic standards. They need more urban athletes, and unfortunately a lot of those kids can't get in under the current standards. They make everybody take calculus! That's ridiculous. The priests don't understand what to do anymore."
His outbursts are like thunderstorms momentarily blocking the sun. Most of Hornung's life is spent in good cheer. He has been married for 23 years to his second wife, Angela, 55. She spots him three shots a side when they play golf at either of their two Louisville country clubs, and they are decorating a new home with Hornung's collection of celebrity art, including works by Tony Bennett, Peter Falk, Anthony Quinn and Red Skelton. Putting Hornung's football trophies on display will be more difficult. "He's not a trophy person," says Angela. "He's strange about them. The Heisman had spent time in the garage before he sold it."