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Tex Maule
September 21, 1964
It was not just an opening game for Paul Hornung—his first in two years. It was a game against the Bears, a team that had beaten the Packers twice in 1963, and in it Hornung had to reestablish his worth
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September 21, 1964

Shining Hour For Golden Boy

It was not just an opening game for Paul Hornung—his first in two years. It was a game against the Bears, a team that had beaten the Packers twice in 1963, and in it Hornung had to reestablish his worth

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"You cook these eggs on the floor?" Hornung asked.

"The butter burned a little," Kramer said. "That's why they look like that."

"Good," said McGee. "Excellent, mother. They taste very good. Just the way I like them. Burned."

Saturday morning practice was at 10 o'clock, and Hornung, McGee and Kramer finished breakfast in plenty of time to be suited up and on the field well before 10. One Packer was late, and Lombardi, getting edgy now with only a little more than 24 hours to go before the game, fined him $50. The rest of the team greeted the fine with huge enjoyment. "A little more in the kitty," Hornung said. "We are going to have a fine fine party." The Packer levies go into a pot and the party is financed by them when the season ends.

As he had all week, Hornung worked hard and ran hard in practice. "I'm 212," he said. "That's the lightest I've ever been in the pros. I feel good. I was afraid of the contact when I came back. Not physically afraid, but afraid I might be injury-prone after the layoff. But so far I feel good running, and I throw as well as I ever did. You don't lose your throwing touch. It's there all the time, like riding a bicycle. I had to work on my blocking because the timing goes off. I kicked a few balls every day during the year I was away, so the kicking didn't bother me. I think I'll be all right. I hope so. I really hope so." He took his mother to lunch in the dining room of the Downtowner Motel, where she was staying. He asked a photographer not to take pictures of himself and his mother.

"She's a little tired of all this," he said apologetically. "If you have to have the pictures, I guess it will be O.K. But I would appreciate it very much if we could skip it." He went back to the house after lunch and watched the UCLA- Pittsburgh game on television, switching to the New York Yankee- Minnesota Twins baseball game during commercials. He watched an Irish hurling match off and on, too. He said little about the football. Once a Pitt back swung wide and went to the sideline, and Hornung said, quietly, "Cut," when the back should have cut. He went to sleep briefly during a tennis match from Forest Hills but roused himself to watch Arnold Palmer, Ken Venturi, Tony Lema and Bobby Nichols in the World Series of Golf. He pulled for Venturi and Nichols, friends of his. McGee brought some cleaning in that he had paid for; Hornung's share was nearly $15, and he grimaced. "Good thing I get it for half price," he said. He put on his coat and waved casually. "See you all in the morning," he said and walked out as if the next day was a day like any other. He went to pick up his mother to take her to dinner.

In the plush Green Bay dressing room Sunday morning Hornung was still loose. Some of the players, keyed high for this opening game with the Bears, lay on their backs in front of their lockers, legs up on the seats of their folding chairs, quiet and nervous. Hornung sat easily in his chair, stuffing knee and thigh pads into the pockets of the new bright-gold uniform trousers he would wear.

The field had hardened; the ground-keeper was right. Hornung kidded Norm Masters, the chunky Green Bay tackle whose unenviable assignment for the afternoon was to block the Bears' gigantic defensive end, Doug Atkins. "One thing," Hornung said. "Just be sure to hit him a good pop on 48." "I'll run between his legs," Masters said, grinning. "You are on your own."

The day was bright and cool and, as it turned out, Hornung blocked Atkins as soon as Masters did. The first Green Bay play from scrimmage sent Jim Taylor into the line, and Hornung helped Masters on Atkins. They collaborated well enough to sweep him out of the play, and Taylor ran for eight yards.

The rest of the day belonged to Hornung and the Packer lines, both of which dominated the Bears. But it was Hornung the Green Bay fans had come to see. He had played convincingly during the exhibition season, but Lombardi had used him sparingly. This afternoon he was in every offensive play for the Packers except two. Once, going for a good gain deep in Bear territory, he lost his shoe and had to repair to the sidelines for one play to replace it. Then, with 23 seconds left and Green Bay safely ahead 23-12, he stayed on the sideline as the offense took the field to run out the clock.

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