Pettis Norman

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Pettis Norman
No. 84, 88
Position:Tight end
Personal information
Born: (1939-01-04) January 4, 1939 (age 84)
Lincolnton, Georgia, U.S.
Height:6 ft 3 in (1.91 m)
Weight:222 lb (101 kg)
Career information
High school:West Charlotte (NC)
College:Johnson C. Smith
AFL Draft:1962 / Round: 16 / Pick: 123
Career history
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics
Player stats at · PFR

Pettis Burch Norman is a former professional American football tight end in the National Football League for the Dallas Cowboys and the San Diego Chargers. He played college football at Johnson C. Smith University.

Early years[edit]

Norman was born in Lincolnton, Georgia on January 4, 1939[1] to Fessor and Elease "Eloise" Norman (née Booker) as the youngest of ten children.[2] He was ten years old when his father died, and his family moved to Charlotte, North Carolina. He attended Biddlesville Elementary School, Northwest Junior High, and West Charlotte High School, where he made the team in his junior season and became a standout starter in his final year. He enlisted in the Air Force but was granted a release before attending boot camp due to a football scholarship offer from Johnson C. Smith University, a Historically Black University, by then coach Eddie McGirt, without ever having seen him play.[3][4]

He was named the starter and team MVP at split end as a freshman.[5] He was a two-way player and became a two-time All-CIAA selection. As a senior he had a game with 5 receptions for 133 yards, 2 touchdowns and was credited with 14 tackles. Norman also lettered in track and field, once posting a 9.7 seconds 100-yard dash.

Professional career[edit]

Dallas Cowboys[edit]

Norman was selected by the Dallas Texans in the 16th round (123rd overall) of the 1962 AFL Draft, but wasn't chosen in the NFL Draft due to the Texans spreading rumors that they had already signed him to a contract. This situation influenced him to join the Dallas Cowboys in 1962 as an undrafted free agent.[6][7] He was used mostly on special teams during his first two seasons and wore #84 throughout his Dallas Cowboys career.[8][9][10]

In 1963, he was initially used as a split end and started 6 games, before being moved to tight end because he excelled in blocking. The next year, he became a full-time starter and manned the Cowboys tight end position for nearly a decade. In 1965 and 1966, Norman split the tight end job with Franklin Clarke.

He played in the 1967 NFL Championship Game, often referred to as the "Ice Bowl."[11] against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field in sub-zero temperatures.[12][13] The Dallas Cowboys lost 21–17 in the last minutes of the game, due in large part to Bart Starr's quarterback sneak play.[14]

When Ditka joined the Cowboys in 1969 after having been a 4 time All-Pro tight end with the Chicago Bears, Norman remained the starter, but split playing time with Ditka to provide great blocking and leadership along the offensive line.

Norman also started in Super Bowl V, which was a loss to the Baltimore Colts.[15] The sports announcer Jack Buck during his two-year stint covering the Cowboys, famously referred to him on the air as Norman Pettis, prompting Blackie Sherrod, a sportswriter in Dallas, to write: "Dallas fans are tired of Pettis Norman constantly being referred to as Norman Pettis by broadcaster Buck Jack."[16][17][18][19][20][21]

After trading Lance Rentzel, the Cowboys replaced Norman with future hall of famer Lance Alworth and Norman was sent to the San Diego Chargers as part of the "Bambi trade" in May 1971, that also involved Ron East and Tony Liscio.[22]

San Diego Chargers[edit]

In his first season with the San Diego Chargers, Norman was named the starter at tight end and had a career-high 27 catches for 358 yards. He played with the Chargers until he retired after the 1973 season because of a degenerative knee condition, having played 12 years and 162 games, receiving 183 passes for 2,492 yards and 15 touchdowns.[23]

Personal life[edit]

Norman enlisted in the Texas Army National Guard in 1962 and served until 1968 while playing for the Dallas Cowboys. He married his junior high sweetheart, Margaret Ann Clinkscales, on December 22, 1962, and had three daughters before becoming widowed in 1991. The Reverend Jesse Jackson eulogized Norman's late wife. In 1995, Norman married Ivette Hightower, daughter of the late Master Chief Harry Hightower for whom Hightower Hall at Naval Station Norfolk was named.[24] The Reverend Jesse Jackson officiated the wedding.[25]

Norman was active in changing the segregationist climate within the Cowboys and later the City of Dallas, helping to organize marches during the Civil Rights Movement, influencing the changing of the team's roommate assignments and breaking social barriers.[26][27][28][29] He and several Dallas Cowboy teammates marched for civil rights with the Jesuits in 1965 in downtown Dallas.[30][31] Norman protested again in 1971 when council member George Allen was passed over as Mayor Pro Tem of Dallas despite reassurances to the contrary.[32]

After his retirement from the NFL, Norman became a successful businessman in different ventures (fast food franchises, apartment complexes, real state development, fuel transportation, convenience stores, etc.).[33][34][35][36][37]

In 1975, Norman became a television announcer and color commentator for the World Football League, formed in 1973 by attorney and businessman Gary Davidson. He broadcast on WRET TV 36 (Charlotte, NC), WGHP TV9 (High Point, NC), and WCTG TV 17 (Atlanta, GA) with John Sterling.[38]

He founded the Dallas Together Forum in the 1990s, an initiative that worked with Dallas CEOs to improve minority hiring and award contracts to women-owned and minority-owned businesses.[39][40][41]

He is as a member emeritus of JCSU's board of trustees,[42] has served as a keynote speaker, advisor, board member, and volunteer for numerous organizations,[43][44][45][46] and was involved in charity golf tournaments benefiting various causes and nonprofits.[47][48][49]

Norman sued the Dallas Cowboys and San Diego Chargers, claiming medical negligence in the handling of his injured knee.[50][51]

On December 2, 2014, the Dallas Police Department reported that Sharneen Norman, who also went by "Shawn," died from a gunshot wound. She was the eldest of Norman's three daughters.[52]

Awards and recognition[edit]

Norman was featured on the History Channel's History Stories regarding his recollection of the assassination of President Kennedy on November 22, 1963, in Dallas, Texas, and the Dallas Cowboys' subsequent loss to the Cleveland Browns two days later.[53][54]

He was recognized in the Congressional Record by the Honorable James M. Collins (October 13, 1972) as a Dallas Park Board member,[55] by the Honorable Martin Frost (September 30, 1985 and February 3, 1988) during Minority Enterprise Development Week and regarding police-community relations,[56][57] and by the Honorable Eddie Bernice Johnson (May 18, 2010 and January 8, 2019) for his contributions to the City of Dallas.[58][59]

In 1977, he was inducted into the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association Hall of Fame.[60][61]

In 2010, he was inducted into the Black Sports Hall of Fame.[62]

In 2017, he was honored as a Dallas/Fort Worth Black Living Legend.[63]

In 2017, he was included on the Mecklenburg Sports Wall of Fame in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina.[64]

Johnson C. Smith University's most prestigious sports award, the Pettis Norman Male and Female Athlete of the Year Award, is given annually to the school's most outstanding student-athletes.[65][66][67]

Norman is known for his television and documentary appearances on The NFL on CBS, The NFL on NBC, NBC Sports, NFL Monday Night Football, and NFL Films.[68][69] He has appeared in numerous media including The New York Times,[70] Texas Monthly,[71][72] The Dallas Morning News,[73][74][75][76] NBC DWF 5,[77] the Dallas Business Journal,[78][79][80] The Cowboys Legends Show,[81] The Charlotte Post,[82] The Charlotte Observer,[83] and many others.


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  2. ^ "The Cowboys Legends Show with Pettis Norman". Retrieved July 2, 2020.
  3. ^ "JCSU Honors Three Distinguished Coaches". Retrieved June 10, 2020.
  4. ^ "North Carolina Football Team Trivia Across All Divisions". September 12, 2016. Retrieved December 30, 2021.
  5. ^ "Smith sophs drub Delaware by 42-0". Retrieved April 30, 2017.
  6. ^ "Gil Brandt Enshrinement Speech". Retrieved December 30, 2021.
  7. ^ "HBCU athletes with Super Bowl past". Retrieved December 30, 2021.
  8. ^ "Jay Novacek: Greatest 84 Dallas Cowboys Have Ever Had". June 22, 2015. Retrieved December 30, 2021.
  9. ^ "Old Dallas Cowboys' Memories Of Training Camp Aren't So Fond". Retrieved December 30, 2021.
  10. ^ "NFL DRAFT: HIT AND MISS — Sometimes, the Big Names Were the Last Ones Taken in the Draft". Los Angeles Times. April 23, 1989. Retrieved December 30, 2021.
  11. ^ "Spagnola: Rather Amazing 50 Years Ago Sunday Ice Bowl Still Frozen In Time". Retrieved June 10, 2020.
  12. ^ "December 31, 1967: Weather During the Icebowl". Retrieved June 10, 2020.
  13. ^ "Remembering what it was like on the sideline at the Ice Bowl". Retrieved June 10, 2020.
  14. ^ "Blackie Sherrod: Ice Bowl radio broadcast". YouTube. Retrieved December 29, 2020.
  15. ^ "Pettis Norman IMDb". IMDb. Retrieved June 10, 2020.
  16. ^ "Notebook:Local voices praise Buck". Retrieved December 29, 2020.
  17. ^ "THE MONDAY NIGHT ALTERNATIVE". Retrieved December 29, 2020.
  18. ^ "Dallas Week Dawns, The Feud Goes On...Just Because". Retrieved December 29, 2020.
  19. ^ Buck, Jack. That's a Winner!, (Sport Publishing 1997)
  20. ^ ""Starr. To Taylor. Touchdown."". October 11, 2018. Retrieved December 29, 2020.
  21. ^ Ribowsky, Mark. The Last Cowboy: A Life of Tom Landry, (W. W. Norton & Company 2013)
  22. ^ "Trading wasn't always so difficult in the NFL". Retrieved December 29, 2020.
  23. ^ "Pettis Norman TE". Retrieved December 29, 2020.
  24. ^ "Naval Station Norfolk". Facebook. Retrieved June 10, 2020.
  25. ^ "Biography". Retrieved June 10, 2020.
  26. ^ "Marion Butts Photo, Downtown Dallas". October 10, 2019. Retrieved December 29, 2021.
  27. ^ "Few Minorities in Country Clubs". Retrieved April 30, 2017.
  28. ^ "African American Elected Officials: Marion Butts Collection, Dallas Public Library" (PDF). Retrieved December 30, 2021.
  29. ^ Ribowsky, Mark. The Last Cowboy: A Life of Tom Landry, (W. W. Norton & Company 2013)
  30. ^ "Responding to the Call: Jesuits and Racial Justice". Retrieved July 5, 2020.
  31. ^ "ICP Acquires African-American Photography Archive". September 24, 2015. Retrieved July 5, 2020.
  32. ^ "WFAA Collection of the G. Williams Jones Collection at SMU". YouTube. Archived from the original on December 14, 2021. Retrieved July 5, 2020.
  33. ^ "Dallas Cowboys Teamwork Pays Off For Dallas Transportation Company". Retrieved December 30, 2021.
  34. ^ "DISTRICT 8 Final Report by Mayor Pro Tem Tennell Atkins" (PDF). Retrieved December 30, 2021.
  35. ^ "Do whites get more jobs than blacks?". Retrieved April 30, 2017.
  36. ^ "Pettis Norman". YouTube. Retrieved December 31, 2021.
  37. ^ "Work begins for South Dallas task force". Retrieved December 31, 2021.
  38. ^ "1975 WFL Game Summaries Media Information". Retrieved June 10, 2020.
  39. ^ "Dallas Together Forum leaders reflect on past sins, "The Big Event, " and a new covenant". Retrieved July 5, 2020.
  40. ^ "Dallas Citizens Council". Retrieved July 5, 2020.
  41. ^ "Dallas business leaders say they're committed to inclusion after the summer protests. Will it last?". August 16, 2020. Retrieved December 28, 2021.
  42. ^ "JCSU alum, former Dallas Cowboys star Norman pens autobiography, Recounts 12-year NFL career and beyond". Retrieved December 28, 2021.
  43. ^ "Leadership". Retrieved December 28, 2021.
  44. ^ "Dallas Park Board Minutes, Book 16, Page: 160". 1971. Retrieved December 28, 2021.
  45. ^ "Trey Whitfield Foundation honors Maher's commitment to educational access". Retrieved December 28, 2021.
  46. ^ "Dallas Police Department Safer Dallas Better Dallas" (PDF). Retrieved December 28, 2021.
  47. ^ "12th Annual Bishop Dunne Golf Classic the Best One Yet!". Retrieved December 28, 2021.
  48. ^ "Water woes chart the life and death of a golf course". Retrieved December 28, 2021.
  49. ^ "African American Pastor Dr. Tony Evans Becomes New Owner of The Golf Club of Dallas". Retrieved December 28, 2021.
  50. ^ "Norman Files Suit Against Dallas". Retrieved April 30, 2017.
  51. ^ "Norman wins suit against Chargers". Retrieved April 30, 2017.
  52. ^ "Dallas police believe man who killed daughter of former Dallas Cowboy Pettis Norman committed suicide". December 5, 2014. Retrieved April 30, 2017.
  53. ^ "Two Days After JFK's Assassination, the Dallas Cowboys Faced Backlash". Retrieved December 28, 2021.
  54. ^ "Hours after JFK was assassinated, NFL commish Pete Rozelle made the decision he would live to regret". New York Daily News. Retrieved December 28, 2021.
  55. ^ "Report to the Third Congressional District of Texas" (PDF). Retrieved December 28, 2021.
  56. ^ "156 Cong. Rec. E861 - MINORITY ENTERPRISE DEVELOPMENT WEEK" (PDF). Retrieved December 28, 2021.
  57. ^ "100th Congress, 2nd Session Vol. 134, Part 1 — Bound Edition". Retrieved December 28, 2021.
  58. ^ "156 Cong. Rec. E861 - RECOGNIZING PETTIS NORMAN". Retrieved December 28, 2021.
  59. ^ "165 Cong. Rec. E17 - BIRTHDAY WISHES TO PETTIS NORMAN". Retrieved December 28, 2021.
  60. ^ "CIAA Pettis Norman". Retrieved April 30, 2017.
  61. ^ "Celebrating 125 Years of Black College Football". Retrieved December 30, 2021.
  62. ^ "Seventeen Sports Legends Inducted at 6th Annual Black Sports Hall of Fame" (PDF). Retrieved December 28, 2021.
  63. ^ "UNT Libraries Special Collections to The Portal to Texas History, Black Academy of Arts and Letters Records". 1987. Retrieved December 28, 2021.
  64. ^ "JCSU Legend Pettis Norman Receives Plaque on Mecklenburg Sports Wall of Fame". Retrieved December 28, 2021.
  65. ^ "Chasing Our Dreams: 2012-13 Athletics Awards Ceremony" (PDF). Retrieved December 28, 2021.
  66. ^ "JCSU Athletics Honors Their Student-Athletes At 2011 Athletic Awards Ceremony". Retrieved April 30, 2017.
  67. ^ "JCSU Athletics closes out the 2018-19 Season at Smitty's Golden Awards". Retrieved June 10, 2020.
  68. ^ "IMDb Pettis Norman Biography". IMDb. Retrieved December 28, 2021.
  69. ^ ""COSTAS TONIGHT SPECIAL — NO DAY FOR GAMES: THE COWBOYS AND JFK" DEBUTS WEDNESDAY, NOV. 20 AT 11 PM ET ON NBCSN". November 11, 2013. Retrieved December 28, 2021.
  70. ^ Applebome, Peter (June 27, 1996). "Race Issue Boils Over In Dallas". The New York Times. Retrieved December 28, 2021.
  71. ^ "Don Meredith's Son on His Upcoming Documentary 'First Cowboys'". November 12, 2017. Retrieved December 28, 2021.
  72. ^ "Turn Out The Lights". August 1997. Retrieved December 28, 2021.
  73. ^ "Dallas Cowboys great Pettis Norman lays it all out in new autobiography". December 10, 2021. Retrieved December 10, 2021.
  74. ^ "How Pettis Norman helped the Dallas Cowboys deal with race". December 11, 2021. Retrieved December 15, 2021.
  75. ^ "Cowboys tight end Pettis Norman recalls 'unbelievable experience' playing Packers in Ice Bowl". December 10, 2021. Retrieved December 15, 2021.
  76. ^ "Cowboys gather at funeral to remember Jethro Pugh, a 'man among men'". January 15, 2015. Retrieved December 28, 2021.
  77. ^ "Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship Purchases Historic Oak Cliff Country Club". Retrieved December 28, 2021.
  78. ^ "Work begins for South Dallas task force". Retrieved December 31, 2021.
  79. ^ "Foundation established to bolster DISD". Retrieved December 31, 2021.
  80. ^ "Top Retail Brokers". Retrieved December 31, 2021.
  81. ^ "Spagnola: Nov. 22, 1963, A Day You Never Forget". Retrieved December 28, 2021.
  82. ^ "JCSU alum, former Dallas Cowboys star Norman pens autobiography". Retrieved December 28, 2021.
  83. ^ "Former high school football players to receive Super Bowl honors". Retrieved December 28, 2021.