FALL 2012 Auction
This lot is closed for bidding. Bidding ended on 12/2/2012
The man who ended up at the most-storied franchise in NFL history quite appropriately came from the most-fabled college football team ever known. “The Golden Boy” Paul Hornung put together an incredible 1956 season for the Fighting Irish and ended up with the Heisman Trophy for his troubles, but he managed this for arguably one of the weakest team’s in the school’s modern history, making Hornung’s individual laurels all the more remarkable.
For top college athletes in the 1950’s, playing offense and defense was hardly out of the ordinary, but
having Paul Hornung’s workload most certainly was. He led the Fighting Irish in everything except restaurants visited, playing quarterback, halfback and defensive back, running back punts and kickoffs and even catching a few passes to boot. This at a time when college football rivaled the NFL in capturing the public’s attention and allegiance; a Sports Illustrated “Golden Boy” cover story made it clear that the darling of football fans made his home in South Bend, Indiana, rather than the glitzy capitals of the National Football League.
Hornung captured the 1956 Heisman in one of the closest votes ever, edging out John Majors of Tennessee and Tommy McDonald of Oklahoma. Even more notable in the awarding of the famed trophy to Hornung was the fact that the Irish finished 2-8, making it the only time it has been awarded to a player on a losing team. Rolling out the numbers hardly tells the story of Hornung’s historic 1956 season. He passed for nearly 1,000 yards at a time when the passing game was subordinate to the rush at most major colleges; he added another 420 yards rushing, caught three passes, and returned four punts. Another 496 yards came
from kickoff returns, highlighted by a 95-yard run-back for a touchdown that capped a mind-boggling 354 yards in total offense in his final appearance as a collegiate player. This was engineered in a season-closing loss to arch-rival USC and presumably caught the attention of the sportswriters who voted on the Heisman Trophy.
The trophy presented here is one of four trophies made for Hornung in acknowledgement of college footballs’ highest honor. The original, presented to him in 1956, is in the hands of a private collector. This and two others were made later for Hornung. The other two are currently on display at the Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame and Notre Dame University respectively while this one previously held a position of prominence in the Hornung home.
Looking back with the hindsight of more than a half century, Hornung’s coronation as the top college football player in the nation seems appropriate and even inevitable,
especially given his subsequent success with the Packers in the NFL and ultimate enshrinement in both the professional and college football halls of fame. Few
players ever had a greater understanding of the nuances of fame and fortune as a professional athlete. It wasn’t just a reference to his rugged good looks that got him the
nickname “Golden Boy.” Heck, try to imagine the very silhouette of Paul Hornung that we remember so well with his legendary No. 5 carrying the football: you could plant that very pose atop the Heisman Trophy itself and hardly anyone would notice the difference.
Includes a LOA from
Paul Hornung. Size is 17.5" x 12.5" x 18.5". Weighs 44.2 pounds. Exact size and weight as every other Heisman.