American Football Database
Ken Norton, Jr.
Norton at USC's traditional pregame "Trojan Walk"
Seattle Seahawks
Personal information
Date of birth: (1966-09-29) September 29, 1966 (age 55)
Place of birth: Jacksonville, Illinois
Career information
College: UCLA
NFL Draft: 1988 / Round: 2 / Pick: 41
Debuted in 1988 for the Dallas Cowboys
Last played in 2000 for the San Francisco 49ers
Career history
 As player:
* Dallas Cowboys (1988-1993)
 As coach:
* University of Southern California (2004-2008)
Linebackers Coach
Career highlights and awards
* 3× Pro Bowl selection (1993, 1995, 1997)
Career NFL statistics as of 2000
Tackles     1,130
Sacks     12.5
Interceptions     6
Defensive Touchdowns     2
Stats at

Kenneth Howard Norton, Jr. (born September 29, 1966) is a former American football linebacker in the National Football League and the current linebackers coach for the Seattle Seahawks. Previously, he was a linebackers coach and Assistant Head Coach for defense for the USC Trojans.

He was the first NFL player to win a Super Bowl ring in three consecutive years.

He is the son of the former heavyweight boxing champion, Ken Norton.

College career

Norton Jr. is a graduate of Westchester High School in California, where he played as a running back averaging 8.8 yards per carry as a senior.

He went on to play at UCLA from 1984-1987.

He was converted to linebacker, the position he would play for the remainder of his football career.

He was a member of the 1985 conference championship team, and helped the Bruins to four consecutive bowl wins

Norton led team in tackles in 1986 with 106 and did it again in 1987 with 125. He ranks sixth in school history with 339 career tackles.

He earned All-American honors in 1987.[1] At only 6'1" he was short for a linebacker, but played at a formidable 254 pounds.

In 1987 he was also a finalist for the Butkus Award and was named the team's defensive MVP.

In 1998 he was inducted in the UCLA Hall of Fame.

Professional career

He was drafted in the second round of the 1988 NFL Draft by the Dallas Cowboys.

He spent most of his rookie year on injured reserve with a broken thumb.

In 1989 Norton and Jesse Solomon shared the weakside linebacker position. He played the first and third quarters, Solomon the second and fourth.

In 1990, he became a full-time starter when Solomon held out and was eventually traded to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. A knee injury sidelined him for the last two games of the season.

In 1991, he bounced back from knee surgery and was used at strongside linebacker and middle linebacker during that season, eventually settling in at the middle linebacker spot.

In 1992, he blossomed as a player and became the leader of the defense, leading the team in tackles with 120 and helping the Cowboys win their first Super Bowl in the 90's. That year the Cowboys had the number one defense in the league, but no player was voted to the Pro Bowl. He also started doing his trademarked punching of the goal posts or the air, after making good plays. A tribute to his father, the one time boxing Heavy Weight Champion of The World, Ken Norton.

In 1993, he had to play through a torn biceps injury, but still managed to lead the team in tackles with 159, helping the Cowboys win their second straight Super Bowl. He was also selected to his first Pro Bowl. Norton is also notable for his part in ending the career of Napoleon McCallum. In the first game of the 1994 season, Norton, along with Bryant Young, tackled McCallum during a rushing play. While he was being pulled to the ground, McCallum's knee collapsed backwards into an unnatural position, almost at a 90 degree angle. After the play, Norton remained under McCallum while medical staff attended to McCallum.

He played in Dallas between 1988 and 1993, assisting the Cowboys to victory in Super Bowl XXVII and Super Bowl XXVIII. Norton scored a touchdown on a fumble recovery in the fourth quarter of Super Bowl XXVII, helping to seal a Dallas victory.

In 1994 when a salary cap was instituted in the NFL, the Cowboys organization felt they could find linebackers through the draft, without the need of paying a premium and adversely impacting the salary cap, so they allowed talented and productive players like Ken Norton Jr., Darrin Smith, Dixon Edwards, Robert Jones and James Washington to leave via free agency, instead of signing them in to long-term contracts.

During the first year of free agency, he joined the San Francisco 49ers from 1994 to 2000, becoming the first player to win three consecutive Super Bowls (Super Bowl XXIX). Norton was selected to his second Pro Bowl in 1995. Norton was also named to the NFL All-Pro Team following the 1995 season.

Norton finished his 13 NFL seasons with 12 sacks and 5 interceptions, which he returned for 127 yards (116 m) and 2 touchdowns (both in the same game against the Saint Louis Rams in 1995). He also recovered 13 fumbles and returned them for 36 yards (33 m). Along with ex-teammate Deion Sanders, Norton won consecutive Super Bowls on different teams.

Coaching career


Ken Norton Jr

After retiring from the NFL, Norton Jr. served as a radio and television commentator and analyst, and coached football at Hamilton High School in Los Angeles, California.

In 2004, he joined the coaching staff of the USC Trojan football team under Head Coach Pete Carroll. From 2004-2009, he served as the linebacker coach for the Trojans; while at USC he helped recruit and develop NFL-bound linebackers such as NFL Pro Bowler Lofa Tatupu, Dallas Sartz, Keith Rivers, Brian Cushing, Kaluka Maiava, Clay Matthews III, and Rey Maualuga.

In January 2008, Norton declined offers by UCLA's new head coach, Rick Neuheisel, to join the Bruins coaching as an assistant head coach.[1]

On January 7, 2009, Norton was promoted to USC Assistant Head Coach for Defense. A form of recognition of his continuing work with the USC linebacker corps, he has developed three consecutive Rose Bowl MVPs: Brian Cushing (2007), Rey Maualuga (2008) and Kaluka Maiava (2009).[2]

Attending the player evaluations of the by-invitation-only 2009 NFL Scouting Combine were all four of Norton's Trojan senior class linebacker protégés: Brian Cushing, Kaluka Maiava, Clay Matthews III, and Rey Maualuga.

On January 11, 2010, it was announced that USC linebackers coach Ken Norton Jr. would be joining head coach Pete Carroll in Seattle to fill the same role with the Seahawks, reuniting him with his protégé, Seahawks defensive standout Lofa Tatupu.[3]


Norton is the son of Ken Norton, former world champion heavyweight boxer and one of the few to ever beat Muhammad Ali. He and his wife, Angela, have 3 children: Brittney, Sabrina, and Ken III.

Noteworthy Plays

  • In tribute to his father's boxing career, Ken Norton Jr. would strike a boxing stance in the end zone each time he scored a defensive touchdown and throw a punching combination at the goalpost pad.
  • Early in the Second Quarter of Super Bowl XXVII, Norton, on a third-down and one from the one-yard line, with his feet in the end zone, solo tackled Kenneth Davis preventing a touchdown. Consequently the Bills opted for a fourth-down pass which was intercepted by Thomas Everett. The Goal line stand would later be recognized by analysts as the point where the game truly got away from the Bills.
  • On September 5, 1994, during a Monday Night Football contest and the Raiders' opening game of the season at the San Francisco 49ers, Napoleon McCallum's career ended prematurely when 49ers linebacker Ken Norton Jr. twisted him to the ground. McCallum's cleat stuck in the ground, forcing his knee into a horrible dislocation. Norton lay pinned underneath a motionless McCallum for a couple of minutes while trainers attended to McCallum.


  1. 1.0 1.1 Gary Klein, Norton turns down UCLA, will remain at USC, Los Angeles Times, January 15, 2008.
  2. Gary Klein, Pete Carroll promotes Rocky Seto to defensive coordinator, Los Angeles Times, January 8, 2009, Accessed January 8, 2009.

External links

it:Ken Norton Jr.