A tribute to the hardest hitting man in football: Ken Norton Jr.
Ken Norton Jr. came to the 49ers for the 1994-95 season after winning consecutive Super Bowls with the Dallas Cowboys. Norton won his third consecutive Super Bowl championship in his first season with the 49ers - becoming the only player to ever achieve such an accomplishment. Norton was a leader both on and off the field, and will be remembered as one of the hardest hitting men in football.
Named after his father, the one time boxing Heavy
Weight Champion of The World, Norton, trademarked punching the goal posts or
the air after making good plays. This tribute of sorts, is just one
example of the class act that Ken was.
On September 29th 1966, boxer Ken Norton Sr. gave birth to a son in Lincoln, IL, who he and his wife named after himself. Coming from an athletic family, Ken Norton Jr. was destined to become a star. Norton Jr grew up in Los Angeles, and played football at his high-school Westchester High. Originally a tailback, Norton averaged 8.8 yards per carry as a senior.
Norton went on to college, but did not play football until his junior year at UCLA. In college Norton was converted to a linebacker, the position he would play for the remainder of his football career. Leaving college early for his football career, Norton returned in 1998 to earn a degree. He became the first in his family to earn a college degree.
Drafted in the second round by the Dallas Cowboys in 1988, Norton spent much of his first two seasons on the bench injured. Norton still managed to post nearly 90 tackles, playing injured in 1989. In 1991 Norton lead the Cowboys in solo stops and tackles, in posting his full active season. In his final two seasons with the Cowboys, Norton again was a stand out player. He contributed greatly to the two Super Bowl Championships he won in 1992 and 1993.
Norton's 49ers era began in 1994. With the 49ers, he led the team in tackles and recorded a career high pass defended with eleven. Norton became a huge contributor with the 49ers in their Super Bowl run, and in so doing, became the only player to ever win three consecutive Super Bowls.
Norton has not missed a game since 1993. His iron man streak is now at 160 consecutive games. Norton set many records with the 49ers including the record for tackles in a season with 165. His efforts granted him three Pro Bowl appearances and a multitude of player of the week awards.
Off the field, Norton is very into giving back to the community. He is a huge contributor to Big Brother and to the Entertainers and Athletes for Kids in Los Angeles. He is also active in the Pediatric Aids Foundation and the Special Olympics. Norton is married to Angela, and the two have two daughters Brittney and Sabrina as well as a son Ken Norton III.
As a 49ers player, Norton became a great talent both on and on the sidelines. His contributions and enthusiasm towards the game allowed Steve Mariucci to lean on Norton in his first year as head coach of the team. Norton's leadership capabilities enabled the 49ers to have a coach on the field. Norton will forever be remembered as a 49er, and as one of the hardest hitters of the game - his dad should be proud.