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🚨Hornung and Karras Reinstated to NFL after One-Year Suspensions

Mar. 16, 1964 - Paul Hornung of the Packers and Alex Karras of the Lions were reinstated today by NFL commissioner Pete Rozelle following 11-month suspensions for betting on games.

Their coaches, Vince Lombardi of Green Bay and George Wilson of Detroit, warmly welcomed the players back to the active rosters and put to rest rumors they would discard them.

“Hornung will not be traded,” said Lombardi, and Wilson said there was no thought of trading Karras. “He’s the best defensive tackle in the league,” said Wilson, “the best pass rusher in a long time.”

When the suspensions were announced last April 17, they were called “indefinite.” Rozelle ended the sentences after interviewing Hornung March 7 and Karras last Saturday in his New York office “to explore their attitude and thinking.”

Hornung had been repentant all along. “I did wrong,” he had said many times. “I should be penalized.”

Karras, however, was at first indignant, asserting he had done nothing wrong, and it took him some months to change. Last December, he announced the impending sale of his interest in the Lindell A.C., a bar frequented by “known hoodlums,” according to the Detroit police.

Karras was contrite today. Interviewed in Detroit, he said the suspension “may have been the best thing that ever happened to me. Pro athletes get lulled into thinking their sports careers will last the rest of their lives. You don’t know how much you miss something until you have it taken away.”

Rozelle said he believed both players understood “the double standard that applies to people who are in the public eye. The must be above reproach.”

Rozelle was unable to reach the players by phone this morning to tell them the news; both were informed by reporters.

Hornung, a bachelor, was awakened in a Miami Beach hotel. He said he was “very, very happy” and wanted to thank the commissioner “for all the kindness he has shown me in this.”

Lombardi, in Green Bay, passed a hint to his star halfback. The coach said: “We’re happy to have him back, but I don’t know what kind of shape he’s in.”

Hornung seemed to get the message. He said he would go to Green Bay immediately to start workouts under Lombardi’s direction.

“I’ll have to get my legs back in shape,” said Hornung.

The former Notre Dame all-America is 28. Next season will be his seventh in pro football. The Green Bay halfback was the league’s leading scorer for three years and set a season record with 176 points in 1960. In 1961, he was voted the league’s most valuable player. The Packers won two championships with him — in 1961 and ’62 — and lost the title without him in 1963.

Karras, the son of a Gary, Ind., physician, went to the University of Iowa. His older brother, Lou, played for the Washington Redskins, and a younger brother, Ted, is a guard with the champion Chicago Bears. In recent months, Alex has been living with his wife’s family in Clinton, Iowa, and teaching his 4-year-old son how to swim at the Y.M.C.A.

He said today he weighed 250 pounds, five below his playing weight and would report to training camp with the rookies. “That’s what I am now,” he said. “I only wish I were that young.”

Karras, 29, is heading into his sixth pro campaign.


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