November 20, 2017, 01:26:35 AM

Author Topic: Don Horn to be Inducted into the Gridiron Greats Hall of Fame  (Read 688 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline Bob Fox

  • All Pro
  • ****
  • Posts: 271
Don Horn to be Inducted into the Gridiron Greats Hall of Fame

By Bob Fox



On Friday June 23, Don Horn will be inducted into the Gridiron Greats Hall of Fame at Red Rock Casino Resort and Spa in Las Vegas. The organization honors former players, coaches and contributors for their accomplishments on and off the field.

You may ask, what is Gridiron Greats? Well, here is their mission statement from their website:

The Gridiron Greats Assistance Fund’s mission is to assist dire need retired NFL players who were pioneers of the game and who have greatly contributed to the NFL’s status as the most popular sport in America. Gridiron Greats Assistance Fund provides hands-on assistance to help retired players and their families deal with hardships they face after football. The services include medical assistance, transportation costs for medical evaluations and surgeries, housing assistance, financial assistance for utilities, medication, and coordination of services for food, automotive payments, and childcare.

Speaking of the Gridiron Greats Assistance Fund, this is a description of what is does, which also from their website:

The Gridiron Greats Assistance Fund (GGAF) is a non-stock, non-profit 501(c)(3) organization providing financial grants and ‘pro bono’ medical assistance to retired NFL players in dire need. The organization focuses on the humanitarian side of post-football related issues, which include coordination of social services to retired players who are in need due to a variety of reasons including inadequate disability and/or pensions.

The Gridiron Greats Assistance Fund’s mission is to assist dire need retired NFL players who were pioneers of the game and who have greatly contributed to the NFL’s status as the most popular sport in America. Gridiron Greats Assistance Fund provides hands-on assistance to help retired players and their families deal with hardships they face after football. The services include medical assistance, transportation costs for medical evaluations and surgeries, housing assistance, financial assistance for utilities, medication, and coordination of services for food, automotive payments, and childcare.


Gridiron Greats was originally founded by legendary right guard Jerry Kramer of the Green Bay Packers back in 2007. It all started when he had a Super Bowl ring stolen. Kramer subsequently had a replica ring produced. Kramer later discovered his original ring was being auctioned online.

The auction company then returned the original Super Bowl ring to Kramer. In return, Kramer gave his replica ring to the auction company where $22,000 was raised. Kramer then founded Gridiron Greats and the $22,000 became the initial capital of the organization.

Currently, the organization is headed by Mike Ditka, the Pro Football Hall of Fame tight end who played with the Chicago Bears, the Philadelphia Eagles and the Dallas Cowboys. Ditka also was head coach of da Bears when they won Super Bowl XX and was 121-95 as a head coach with the Bears and the New Orleans Saints.

Sitting with Ditka on the Board of Directors for Gridiron Greats, is Gale Sayers, Marv Levy, Kyle Turley and Matt Birk.

Besides inducting Horn later this month, Gridiron Greats is also enshrining Matt Birk, Dave Casper, Mike Golic, Dan Marino, Joe Namath, John Niland, Jonathan Ogden, Jim Otto, Andre Reed and Jason Taylor.

Wow. That is quite a class!

Gridiron Greats has been inducting members into their Hall of Fame since 2009. Here are the past inductees for the Gridiron Greats Hall of Fame, going year by year:

2009: “Bullit” Bob Dudley, Charlie Sanders, Ron Kramer, John Panelli, Roger Brown, Wally Triplett, Reggie McKenzie, Darris McCord, John Conti, Rocky Bleier, Albert Wistert, Earl Morrall, Jimmy David, Terry Barr and Jerry Green

2010: Mike Ditka, Joe Schmidt, Lem Barney, Pat Summerall, Lloyd Carr, John Green, Lynn Chandnois, Tom Nowatzke, Walt Kowalczyk, Bob Chappuis, Tom Matte, Lomas Brown, Mike Lucci and Dave Brandon

2011: Alex Karras, Gale Sayers, Dick LeBeau, Herman Moore, Desmond Howard, Anthony Carter, Pat Studstill, Gail Cogdill, Dorne Dibble, George Guerre, Sam Williams, Jon Jansen, Dexter Bussey and Tommy Watkins

2012: Marv Levy, Angelo Mosca, Dan Dierdorf, Bobby Bell, Joe DeLamielleure, Gary Moeller, Al “Bubba” Baker, Kyle Turley, Archie Matsos and Hank Bullough

2013: Man of the Year: Kevin Turner Class Inductees: Joe Greene, Jim Marshall, Chris Spielman, Dean Look, Rick Volk, Grady Alderman, Greg Landry, Roger Zatkoff, George Perles, George Reed and Hugh Campbell

2014 in Michigan: Dan Reeves, Brian Westbrook, Jim Brandstatter, Mike Utley, Matt Dunigan, Maxie Baughan, Doug English, Derrick Mason, Mushim Mohammed and Eddie Murray

2014 in Las Vegas: Men of the Year: Paul Hornung and Mike Lucci Woman of the Year: Sylvia Mackey Courage Award: David Humm Class Inductees: Ricky Watters, Hugh McIlhenny, Jon Arnett, Conrad Dobler, Jim Plunkett and Tom Flores

2015 in Las Vegas: Woman of the Year: Chie Smith Class Inductees: Al Davis, Abner Hayes, Jim McMahon, Bob St. Clair, Dave Wilcox, Fred Biletnikoff, Ray Elgaard, George Kunz, Tom Mack, Raymond Chester, Dick Vermeil and Jim Covert

2016 in Las Vegas: Sylvia Mackey Woman of the Year: Chanda Brigance Class Inductees: Cliff Branch, Billy Kilmer, Daryle Lamonica, Don Maynard, Ed Flanagan, Dan Pastorini, Ron “Jaws” Jaworski, Robert Brazile, Danny McManus, Eddie Meador and Jim Taylor

That is quite a Hall of Fame!

You may notice one name missing. That would be the founder of Gridiron Greats, Jerry Kramer. But don’t worry, Gridiron greats has reached out to Kramer to induct him, but Kramer’s schedule helping out with the Vince Lombardi Golf Classic has put off his induction up to this point. But trust me, Kramer’s induction will happen.

Now, getting back to Don Horn. The former San Diego State star played eight years in the NFL, with four of those years in Green Bay.



It all started when he was drafted by the Packers in 1967. Horn recalled that moment, as he was sitting in the public relation director’s office at San Diego State listening to the draft on the radio.

Quote
“So we’re listening to the draft and I hear that the Lions selected Mel Farr with their pick in the first round,” Horn said. “And I’m thinking that those guys [the Lions] didn’t tell the truth about picking me.

“So as we getting near the end of the first round, I’m kind of ticked because all these teams who said they were going to pick me, didn’t. All of a sudden the phone rings and I believe it was Coach Lombardi’s secretary, and she said, ‘Is this Donald Horn?’ And I said yes. She then told me to please hold for Coach Lombardi.

“At first I thought someone was playing a trick on me. Then Lombardi and his distinctive voice gets on the phone. He says, ‘Donald,  this is Vince Lombardi of the Green Bay Packers. The Kansas City Chiefs are picking right now. We are considering making you our next draft choice. Do you have any reservations about playing for the Packers?’ I said no sir.

“Then Coach asked if I had signed any contracts with other leagues like the Canadian Football League. Again, I said no sir. Lombardi then said he would get back to me in about 15 minutes. About 15 minutes later, I get the call and Lombardi says, ‘Don, you are now a Green Bay Packer.’

“I couldn’t believe it. I felt like I was 10 feet tall. It was like walking on water!”

Horn had two very memorable games at quarterback for the Packers.

One was the last game of the 1968 season, when the Packers faced da Bears at Wrigley Field.

The Packers were already eliminated from the NFL Central division race and had a 5-7-1 record going into the game. The Bears, on the other hand, were 7-6, and a win would give them the NFL Central title.

Horn did not expect to play in the game.

Quote
“I got out of the Army about 10 days before the game,” Horn said. “I missed pretty much the whole season because I was in the service. So I got up there and practiced with the team a little bit with the team the week before.

“I had a reserve meeting that Saturday night in Milwaukee. I got out of the reserve meeting around 11:00 and I drove down to Chicago, and I think we were staying at the Drake Hotel. I went in there about 2:30 in the morning. My roommate was Ron Kostelnik.

“Anyway, get up the next morning and went down to the team breakfast. And Lombardi is there and he was still the general manager of the team and is pulling the strings. He tells me, “I’m thinking of having you suit up today.” Bart had broken ribs, so I was going to be the third-string quarterback. Zeke (Bratkowski) started the game but got hurt and he had to be carried off the field.

“Billy Stevens was the other quarterback. Billy started throwing the ball on the sideline getting ready to go into the game. Just then, I think it was coach Schnelker who said, “Horn, get in there.” The first series I struggled, and it seemed like Dick Butkus and company knew exactly what I was doing. The next series it got better. I remember I called one play, and Boyd Dowler says, “You can’t call that play here, it won’t work.” And I said, “It’s the only play I can remember, ready break.” And I threw a 67-yard touchdown pass to Jim Grabowski on the play.”

When the game was over, the Packers had beaten Chicago 28-27. Horn ended up throwing for 187 yards, plus had two touchdown passes without throwing a pick. No. 13’s quarterback rating for that game was a robust 142.4.

Then came the last game of the 1969 season, as the Packers were trying to stay over .500, as their record at the time was 7-6. Horn had been 3-1 that season as a starting quarterback up until this last game of the season versus the St. Louis Cardinals at Lambeau Field.

December 21, 1969 was special in many ways for the Packers. For one, it was Willie Davis Day at Lambeau, as the Packers were honoring No. 87, who announced he was retiring after the season.

Horn made it even more special. The Packers whipped the Cardinals in that game, 45-28. Horn had a fantastic performance, as he threw for 410 yards and also threw five touchdown passes. At the time, Horn was the first quarterback of the Packers to ever throw for more than 400 passing yards.

Horn reflected on that game.

Quote
“Bob Schnelker had a great game plan,” Horn said. “And back then, you called your own plays. Everything just worked. I would call the right plays at just the right time. Great game plan by Schnelker. Great execution by the offense. I was on cloud nine. Everything was clicking and we were on all cylinders. Everything fell into place.”

1970 was not a particularly good year for Horn or the Packers, and the team fired head coach Phil Bengtson after the season and hired coach Dan Devine.

Horn had a conversation with Devine about a week before the 1971 NFL draft, telling him he was happy in Green Bay and wanted to get his contract situation resolved and was looking forward to working with the former Missouri head coach. Devine seemed pleased with the discussion and told Horn he would fly him into Green Bay after the draft to get a new contract done.

But on the morning of the draft, Horn received a phone call from Devine. In a very short conversation to the best of Horn’s recollection, Devine said this,
Quote
“Don, this is coach Devine. I’m just calling you to let you know that I just traded you to the Denver Broncos. Good luck!”

That was the end of Horn’s career in Green Bay.

Horn played two years with the Broncos and then one each with the Cleveland Browns and San Diego Chargers before retiring from football after the 1974 season.

Looking back, Horn still has strong feelings about his time in Green Bay.

Quote
“I wouldn’t trade my time in Green Bay for anything in the world,” Horn said. “I feel very fortunate to be in that great era of the ’60s and to be part of that great team. There were a lot of great characters on that team. Ray Nitschke. Willie Wood. Herb Adderley. Robby (Dave Robinson). Lee Roy Caffey. Bart (Starr). Forrest Gregg. Jerry Kramer. A great bunch of ball players, who also had great character.”

Speaking of Kramer, Horn was at a reunion/autograph session a few years ago with a number of the players on the Super Bowl II team, including Kramer. Horn overheard Kramer talking about stem cell treatment.

Quote
“When I first found out about this, I had bad knees, bad ankles and my hip and shoulder were bothering me as well,” Horn said. “So I went back to Wisconsin for a reunion about four years ago. 24 guys showed up for it. And over half of those guys had gone through hip, knee, shoulder replacement surgeries.

“Half of those guys were complaining that their situation was no better now than it was before the surgery. Jerry was sort of in the corner listening to the guys complain about their aches and pains. Then he started talking about stem cell treatment, as he recently had his hip injected in Florida.

“Jerry was raving about how great the process was. I was sort of intrigued and listened closely to what Jerry had to say. So I go back to Colorado and talked to some doctors there. They referred me to a clinic north of Denver, which was then called Orthopedic Stem Cell Institute (now Premier Regenerative Stem Cell and Wellness Centers). I went up and met with them and observed a procedure where they actually worked on a guy’s spine. I was really impressed.

“To make a long story short, I had them do work on my knees and I’ve had good results. So I’m thinking to myself, that there were a lot of guys I know who had the same issues I had. So since then, I’m kind of the NFL liaison to help promote stem cell treatment.

“We have probably had close to 175 former NFL players who have had a stem cell procedure done, some of whom are in the Hall of Fame. We also recently signed an exclusive deal with the NFL Alumni to be their official stem cell resource.”

Horn has also been a liaison for Premier to partner with Gridiron Greats. Horn worked closely with Kandace Stolz, who is the President and CEO of Premier, as they gained this association with Gridiron Greats.



Gridiron Greats and Premier Regenerative Stem Cell and Wellness Centers have partnered now for two years to help lessen the debilitating effects of long-term injuries that NFL players often suffer from.

Premier certainly has a strong advocate for stem cell therapy in Kramer, as Horn talked about earlier in the story. Kramer is also a member of the Premier Regenerative board of advisers.

Through their exclusive partnership, Premier Regenerative has helped many of the former players avoid extensive surgeries and medication that they may not have been able to afford. Many of the Gridiron Great patients credit Premier Regenerative with a significant improvement in their quality of life and pain management.

Gridiron Greats and Premier Regenerative also partner to work towards facilitating comprehensive treatment for military veterans and retired professional sports athletes through the nonprofit, After The Impact Fund. This fund is designed to help these individuals recover from injuries and get stem cell treatment and other mental health and medical services as needed.

Stolz is proud of this relationship.

Quote
“Our work with both Gridiron Greats and After the Impact Fund is an integral part of our company culture'” Stolz said. “We thrive on helping people recover and live a pain-free life; we’re proud to work with organizations that have the same vision.”

Horn has played a large role in helping out former NFL players, just like he himself was helped years before. One of my favorite stories involves Lance Alworth, the former star wide receiver of the San Diego Chargers, who was nicknamed “Bambi” during his playing days.

Quote
“Lance came out a couple of years ago,” Horn said. “He was all set to have a knee replaced, but I told him to come out to Premier to have his knee looked at. The doctors looked at his knees and he was not considered a candidate for stem cell treatment.

“I mean, his knee was worse than mine. But because of who he was and because he made the trip from San Diego, they gave him an injection of stem cells into his knee. Six weeks later Lance calls me and says, ‘Don, I can’t thank you enough. I can walk again and I can golf. I’m 85 percent better and the pain is virtually gone.’

Horn is the key promoter of stem cell therapy to former NFL players and the list of players wanting treatment keeps growing. His efforts were aided by Stolz when she came aboard Premier.

Quote
“Kandace has such an affinity and a sincere desire to help people, ” Horn said. “”They really want to help former players get better. Kandace saw my value and that helped to open some doors because of my contacts. She saw that I had an ability to communicate well with people, just like Jerry Kramer.

“Kandace put together a marketing and business plan to push this thing further up the ladder. We have added many more former NFL players, and are branching out to other professional sports like the NHL. Plus, we are working with military veterans who we are helping out as well.”

That networking led to a relationship with Gridiron Greats. One can see why Gridiron Greats is inducting Horn.



Horn was certainly grateful when he heard the news of his induction.

Quote
“I’m very proud and honored by the news of this induction,” Horn said. I’m very humbled about this as well. Especially knowing some of the names who have previously been inducted. I’m just thrilled. I’m kind of blown away with this honor.

“I just want to continue to help out my brothers, just like the previous inductees have. It’s just so humbling to be mentioned with all the great previous inductees.

“When I get out there and give my acceptance speech, I definitely want to point out Jerry Kramer. It was all his brainstorm that got this whole thing started. I’m proud to be not only a teammate of his, but also proud to be a friend of his.”

***********************************************************************************************************

About the Author

Bob closely follows the Packers, Badgers, Brewers, Bucks, Golden Eagles and Panthers, but also enjoys sports in Florida as he is a big supporter of the Lightning, Rays, Gators and Bulls, plus enjoys the Bucs, when they aren’t playing the Packers.

Bob always had the itch to return to the media, and he became a writer at a Packer website called ThaPack for a couple of years, before he joined Packer Report, where he was for several years, before joining Wisconsin Sports Online (Packer Chatters) writing about the Packers, Badgers and Brewers.

Bob worked as a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report from November of 2011 into June of 2015, mainly covering the Green Bay Packers, but also did columns for teams like the Tampa Bay Lightning, the Tampa Bay Bucs and the Wisconsin Badgers as well.

Bob currently writes in his Blog at WordPress and also at LandryFootball.com.


Offline Hands

  • HOF Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1238
    • Uncover
Re: Don Horn to be Inducted into the Gridiron Greats Hall of Fame
« Reply #1 on: June 05, 2017, 10:43:01 AM »
Horn was born 20 years too early for the NFL. He would have been a great WCO QB.
That is a pretty funny line..."ït's the only play I can remember".
In the land of the blind.....the one eye man is king!

Online ricky

  • HOF Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 4719
Re: Don Horn to be Inducted into the Gridiron Greats Hall of Fame
« Reply #2 on: June 06, 2017, 08:44:01 AM »
Horn had a great game in GB against the Cardinals, setting a yardage record of 410 yards and five TD's. But overall, he was not a good QB. The best thing the Packers did was trade him to Denver for their first round pick, which became John Brockington. Horn's problem was that when faced with a strong pass rush, he became wildly erratic. But, for another read on Horn, try this:

http://bleacherreport.com/articles/1991329-a-blast-from-the-past-a-conversation-with-former-packers-quarterback-don-horn
"My hopes are not always realized, but I always hope." Ovid

Offline Bob Fox

  • All Pro
  • ****
  • Posts: 271
Re: Don Horn to be Inducted into the Gridiron Greats Hall of Fame
« Reply #3 on: June 12, 2017, 05:25:12 PM »
Ricky, trading Don Horn to move up four spots in the first round made little sense. Especially the way Dan Devine played quarterback roulette throughout his tenure, which included a number of ridiculous trades, like the time he traded two No. 1 picks, two No. 2 picks and one No. 3 pick for an aging and washed up John Hadl.

The story you linked I know well, since I wrote it.  8)

Speaking of stories, here's more on the Devine dilemma at QB. DD's work at GM made Mike Sherman look good in that same job!  ::) At least with trades, because Devine did have some solid drafts, especially in 1972 (Willie Buchanon, Chester Marcol and Dave Pureifory). 

https://greenbaybobfox.wordpress.com/2016/06/11/green-bay-packers-dan-devines-quarterback-miscalculations/

Online ricky

  • HOF Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 4719
Re: Don Horn to be Inducted into the Gridiron Greats Hall of Fame
« Reply #4 on: June 13, 2017, 07:37:22 AM »
Bob, I  am not a Dan (the Pack Is) Devine fan in any way, shape or form. He was a college coach who found himself promoted way beyond his abilities as coach/GM of the Packers. But then again, Lombardi had been coach/GM, so it must work! I noticed that you omitted the switch of Gale Gillingham from OL to DL to increase the pass rush(!!!). And Gillingham getting a season ending/career threatening knee injury as a result. OK, harsh and emotional, but a college move by a supposedly professional coach. The second thing I noticed was no rebutting of my argument that Horn would crumble under a strong pass rush. The first team to expose him, and this is drawing on memories of the Packers playing Denver when Horn was their QB, was the Packers. I believe they even said after the game that was his main weakness, and the reason they traded him. But again, those are memories, so I could be mistaken. Horn was not a good QB.
"My hopes are not always realized, but I always hope." Ovid

Offline Bob Fox

  • All Pro
  • ****
  • Posts: 271
Re: Don Horn to be Inducted into the Gridiron Greats Hall of Fame
« Reply #5 on: June 13, 2017, 05:38:29 PM »
Horn was not a good QB. - Ricky

Well, Vince Lombardi thought enough of Don Horn to draft him in the first round. When give the opportunity to start in 1969, Horn was 4-1, which included the game against St. Louis when he threw for 410 yards and also threw five touchdown passes.

We'll never know how Horn would have done with the Packers under Dan Devine. But based on the running game that Green Bay had then, I think he would have done quite well. A hell of a lot better than the motley crew Devine lined up at times over the years.

Regarding Gale Gillingham, I did mention the ridiculous move Devine made by moving him to defense, when I did a story about No. 68.

https://greenbaybobfox.wordpress.com/2016/10/25/jerry-kramer-talks-about-gale-gillingham/

Here is part of that piece:

In 1971, Gillingham was named first-team All-Pro by NEA, which was also the first season that Dan Devine was the head coach of the Packers.

Speaking of Devine, a few months ago I wrote a story about his miscalculations at the quarterback position during his tenure in Green Bay.

As bad as those decisions were at quarterback by Devine, the worst decision he ever made was moving Gillingham to defensive tackle for the 1972 season.

It made very little sense. Yes, Gillingham had played a little defensive tackle in college for Minnesota, but at the time Devine made the move, Gilly was probably the best right guard in the NFL.

And because the team was lead by second-year quarterback Scott Hunter in 1972, the team would have to to depend on the running game to be successful on offense. John Brockington and MacArthur Lane combined for almost 2,000 years rushing that season, but just imagine their amount of success with Gillingham at right guard.

Instead, Gillingham injured his knee early in the ’72 season playing defensive tackle and would miss the rest of the campaign that year.

Kramer talked about that decision by Devine.

“That was stupid,” Kramer said. “That really was a stupid move. That’s the only thing I can say about that. It just boggles your mind taking a kid of that caliber and quality and then move him to a whole new position. It just doesn’t make any sense.”