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Focus on: Ken Norton, Jr.’s playoff memories
Ken Norton, Jr.’s place is cemented in Super Bowl history.
The Seahawks’ linebackers coach, and a NFL linebacker of the fiercest kind for 13 seasons, is the only player to ever win three consecutive Super Bowls.
Think about that for a moment. As great a player as Steve Largent was, he never played in a Super Bowl. Neither did Cortez Kennedy. But Norton, Jr. won three in a row – Super Bowls XXVII and XXVIII with the Dallas Cowboys and Super Bowl XXIX with the San Francisco 49ers.
“Being the only one in the history of the NFL to won three in a row? No one’s ever done it, and the NFL has been going on for a while? Do I take pride in that?” he said. “Absolutely. We all have our thing we take pride in, and it’s extremely important to understand how hard it is. It’s a journey. There are people who have been around ball for 50 years and never have gotten to this point.
“So it’s rare. And it’s hard to do. And a lot of things have to be aligned. I’ve just been fortunate to be around great players and coaches; fortunate to be in great organizations that really are passionate about winning. It’s been a good ride.”
But what was his favorite postseason memory from his time with the Cowboys (1988-93) and 49ers (1994-2000)? He has more than one, and that’s just fine.
“For me, it’s when I was in Dallas and we played the 49ers in some of our (NFC) championship games,” he said. “The first time, we had to go to San Francisco. It was very special. We played against all the big names – (Jerry) Rice and (Steve) Young and Ricky Watters.
“We had never been to the Super Bowl before, so it was extremely special to go to home on their turf to beat them.”
That was Jan. 23, 1993, when the Cowboys beat the 49ers 30-20 at Candlestick Park. Norton intercepted Young and also had three solo tackles.
“I guess another one would be our first year in the playoffs in Dallas, when we played the Chicago Bears,” Norton, Jr. said. “Just to be in the playoffs, just to be in a situation where you’re one of the top teams and you get to play for the Super Bowl, it was just really exciting.
“But it was very important game, because that game made us really feel that we were pretty good. That we can play in the playoffs. And we never forgot that feeling and we went on to win two straight Super Bowls after that.”
That was Dec. 29, 1991, when the Cowboys beat the Bears 17-13 at Soldier Field. Norton had nine solo tackles. The Bears’ quarterback? Jim Harbaugh, now the coach of the San Francisco 49ers team that the Seahawks beat in last Sunday’s NFC Championship game.
“The next week we went to Detroit, ran into Barry Sanders and we just got blown out,” Norton, Jr. said.
That was Jan. 5, 1992. The Lions won 38-6, as Sanders had a 47-yard touchdown run and Norton had eight tackles.
Norton, Jr. is now in his fourth season as the linebackers coach on Pete Carroll’s staff with the Seahawks.
Asked for his favorite postseason moment as a coach, Norton, Jr. also went for a roots performance that helped the Seahawks blossom into the team that will face the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XLVIII at MetLife Stadium on Feb. 2.
“Our first year here, we played the Rams for the championship of the NFC West,” Norton Jr. said of the 2010 regular-season finale. “That was real exciting for us, just to be in the NFL our first year and to be playing for the first (division) championship.
“And then the first playoff game, when we played New Orleans (in a wild-card game). Marshawn (Lynch) getting his run. And us playing against Drew Brees and his team, and they were the reigning Super Bowl champs. And Reggie Bush was on that team, one of our former players (at USC). So it was real exciting. And I think that’s when we really started getting connected with the 12th Man and what they mean to our team. So those two games really stand out.”