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Today in Sports History: 3/16 – Paul Hornung and Alex Karras Reinstated After Gambling Suspension

Today in sports history (1964), NFL legends Paul Hornung and Alex Karras were reinstated after a year suspension. The two players were suspended by Pete Rozelle for gambling during their time in the league together. Both the Packers and Lions felt the impact of losing these two players. Hornung was an All-Pro halfback in the prime of his career while Karras was an All-Pro defensive tackle also in his prime.

With two of the highest-profile players in the NFL being suspended for gambling on games, this seemed like something that the NFL used to make a statement.

Paul Hornung Gambling on Games
Credit: Neil Leifer/Sports Illustrated

Paul Hornung and Alex Karras Are Reinstated

The root of the suspension for Hornung and Karras came from betting on games. NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle made a statement suspending two of the best players in the league. Another factor of the suspension were the two players having personal relationships with people that the NFL described as “known hoodlums.”

Hornung said that most of the bets he made were with his friends. He added that most of those bets were worth $100-200. Rozelle said that Hornung was betting as much as $500 on games from 1959-61. Hornung later asked for forgiveness, saying, “I made a terrible mistake.”

Rozelle stated that Karras made at least six bets between $50-100. Karras was very frustrated about the suspension. Both players went on to have Hall of Fame careers, with Hornung joining the hall in 1986 and Karras in 2020.

When investigating Karras, the NFL also fined five other players. They were suspended for betting $50 each on the 1962 NFL Championship between the Giants and the Packers.

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