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.
All Players Who Wore #51 For the Dallas Cowboys:
- Keith Adams LB (2001-2001)
- Akin Ayodele, LB (2007-2007)
- Devante Bond, LB (2021-2022)
- Tom Braatz, LB (1960-1960)
- Keith Brooking, LB (2009-2011)
- Anthony Dickerson, LB (1980-1984)
- Kevin Hardy, LB (2002-2002)
- Lynn Hoyem, OG (1962-1963)
- Kerry Hyder, DE (2019-2019)
- Dale Jones, LB (1987-1987)
- Dave Manders, C (1964-1974)
- Ken Norton Jr., LB (1988-1993)
- Adam Redmond, C (2020-2020)
- Caraun Reid, DT (2018-2018)
- Alshermond Singleton, LB (2003-2006)
- Russ Swan, LB, (1987-1987)
- Broderick Thomas, LB (1996-1997)
- Kyle Wilber, 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 Cowboys 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 Twitter, 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 Super Bowl 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 second round of the 1988 NFL Draft (41st overall), Norton Jr. was an accomplished college linebacker, 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.
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 coaching. With stints at USC, for the Seattle Seahawks, the then-Oakland Raiders, 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.
The most recent talk over Norton Jr. and the Cowboys was earlier this year when there were rumors that DC Dan Quinn 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!