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Countdown to Kickoff: Ken Norton Jr. Punches In as The Greatest #51

Welcome back to another edition of the Countdown to Kickoff series!

While you’re likely getting up early after your Friday shenanigans, I thought I would be nice enough to give you something entertaining to read as you enjoy your coffee and prepare for your Saturday.

In today’s post, I had one player who absolutely stole the show, and you could say he “knocked out” his competition.

To ease your curiosity on who got the nod today, let’s dive into who landed as the Greatest #51 in .

Happy Saturday!

 All Players Who Wore #51 For the Dallas Cowboys:

  • Keith Adams LB  (2001-2001)
  • Akin Ayodele, LB (2007-2007)
  • , LB (2021-2022) 
  • Tom Braatz, LB (1960-1960)
  • , LB (2009-2011)
  • Anthony Dickerson, LB (1980-1984)
  • Kevin Hardy, LB (2002-2002)
  • Lynn Hoyem, OG (1962-1963)
  • , DE (2019-2019)
  • Dale Jones, LB (1987-1987)
  • Dave Manders, C (1964-1974)
  • Ken Norton Jr., LB (1988-1993)
  • , C (2020-2020)
  • Caraun Reid, DT (2018-2018)
  • Alshermond Singleton, LB (2003-2006)
  • Russ Swan, LB, (1987-1987)
  • Broderick Thomas, LB (1996-1997)
  • , LB (2012-2017)

Like I said, this player knocked out his competition “literally.”

Son of Ken Norton, former world champion heavyweight boxer, this player excelled at his sport just like his dad, and because of it, he seamlessly slid in as the Greatest #51 in Dallas History.

So without further ado, let’s welcome Mr. Ken Norton Jr. to the floor.

Ken Norton Jr.’s NFL Career

To be transparent, Norton Jr. was another guy I didn’t get to see play during my lifetime.

But, damn, after seeing these two videos pop up when I searched for film over him on , WHAT A DUDE!!!

Jon Machota on Twitter: “Ken Norton Jr. doesn’t get enough credit for how good he was on those Super Bowl teams pic.twitter.com/Dxx6OjL67k / Twitter”

Ken Norton Jr. doesn’t get enough credit for how good he was on those teams pic.twitter.com/Dxx6OjL67k

Dallas Cowboys Collaboration on Twitter: “5⃣1⃣ days til Cowboys vs Bucs ‼️#KenNortonJr #CowboysNation Dallas Cowboys LB Ken Norton Jr scores a Touchdown in Super Bowl 27 and makes a huge goal line stand earlier in the game#DallasCowboys #NFL #Football pic.twitter.com/HTb8hKxlom / Twitter”

5⃣1⃣ days til Cowboys vs Bucs ‼️#KenNortonJr #CowboysNation Dallas Cowboys LB Ken Norton Jr scores a Touchdown in Super Bowl 27 and makes a huge goal line stand earlier in the game#DallasCowboys #NFL #Football pic.twitter.com/HTb8hKxlom

And, to think of how many legendary LBs have come through the franchise, Norton Jr. is what, Top-3?

(Aye, Micah, you got a lot to live up to, but keep doing your thing.)

Drafted in the of the 1988 (41st overall), Norton Jr. was an accomplished college , earning All-American honors and leading his team in tackles in his last two seasons at UCLA.

(Fun Fact: Norton Jr. actually played RB in HS before switching to LB in college. In some alternate universe, he’s probably looking like an All-Pro NFL RB.)

An in-and-out of-the-lineup player and somewhat starter, Norton Jr. didn’t make his mark for the Cowboys until the 1992 season, when he led the team in tackles (120) and played a critical role in helping the team win their only back-to-back Super Bowl victories during the early 90s.

Norton Jr. left the franchise in 1994 to the in , and in his first year, he snagged another Lombardi Trophy–making that three straight Super Bowl victories for him.

He would play for six more years before retiring in 2000, but he got back into the football scene in 2004–as he got into . With stints at USC, for the , the then-, the Niners, and currently at his alma mater, UCLA, you could say he has had an up-and-down coaching journey.

His biggest coaching accomplishment was in 2014 when he won a Super Bowl with the Seahawks, which made him a 4-time champion.

(Yes, this was the year they had the Legion of Boom, and Dallas Cowboys fan favorite was on the squad.)

The most recent talk over Norton Jr. and the Cowboys was earlier this year when there were rumors that DC could get poached from the Cowboys for a head-coaching gig, and ITS Senior Writer Jess Haynie saw Norton Jr. as a potential Quinn replacement.

While Quinn ultimately stayed in Jerry World and Norton Jr. returned to UCLA to coach linebackers, it could be interesting if we see him make his return to the franchise someday.

But for now, Norton Jr. is back with the team as he got the honor of being the Greatest #51 in Dallas Cowboys History. Check back on Sunday when I crown the Greatest #50!

What do you think?

Rocky Garza Jr

Written by Rocky Garza Jr

Rolling with the Boyz since 96'. Chop up sports with me on Twitter @rockssjr.

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One Comment

  1. I agree that Norton is the best 51, though I’m a bit surprised you didn’t at least mention Manders who was a good, solid center for the team in the 60’s & 70’s.

    I really wish Norton would have stayed on the Cowboys he was a great player. Though I would say he falls just outside the top 3 LBs for the team, in part because he just didn’t play long enough for the team, with Howley & Jordan easily being 1 & 2 then Breunig rounding out the top 3.
    It’s a shame that he & many other players on the defense in the 90’s never got the credit & recognition they deserved.

    Btw Norton reportedly doesn’t like being referred to as a Jr. because he has a strained relationship with his father.

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