What People Are Saying About Pettis

Pettis enjoys long friendships with some of the nation’s most notable business and political leaders, not to mention some of America’s favorite football stars.

Dozens of recognizable names have weighed in on Pettis and his life story.


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The Late Tom Landry, Head Coach of the Dallas Cowboys
“Pettis, I had to do the most difficult thing I’ve ever done in my coaching career: I’ve had to involve you in a trade. Now the second-most difficult thing is, I’ve got to go home and explain it to my wife. She’s going to kill me.”

“Pettis showed the fortitude, drive and character to work his way up from very humble beginnings to gain a college degree and then become a vice-president of a bank in Dallas. Pettis was an inspiration during times when people needed someone positive with whom to relate.”

“I wish I had 22 players like Pettis and Lee Roy (Jordan). All I’d have to do is blow up the football and throw it on the field.”

NFC Playoffs: Dallas Cowboys head coach Tom Landry talking with Pettis Norman (84) on sidelines during game vs San Francisco 49ers at Kezar Stadium. San Francisco, CA 1/3/1971 (Photo by Neil Leifer /Sports Illustrated via Getty Images. Used with permission. All rights reserved).

Alicia Landry (2019)
“Pettis Norman was a good football player and an even better person — he was always one of my favorite Cowboy players.”

Tom Landry Jr. (2019)
“I remember carrying Pettis’ helmet every day after practice. Like my mom, I admire Pettis very much and he’s one of my all-time favorite Cowboys, too! I can’t say enough about Pettis. He’s a great person.”


Roger Staubach, Dallas Cowboys Quarterback
“Looking back, everyone really respected Pettis. He was a really good football player. He got the job done as a receiver and was as good as anyone as a blocker. I got to know him as a human being and really like him as a friend. Pettis is someone who has been a positive force in trying to continue to overcome discrimination. He’s been able to get his message across in a very positive way. I’ve always had respect for the way he handles things. He’s a good man.”

Bob Lilly, Dallas Cowboys Defensive Tackle
“Pettis would say what was on his mind. He stands up for what he believes in. Dallas was still segregated and I don’t think any of us liked it. Pettis said, ‘Let’s get this changed.’ And we did. That had a great deal to do with changing Dallas.”

Mel Renfro, Dallas Cowboys Defensive Back, Pro Football Hall of Fame
“When I first came to Dallas, I was very unfamiliar with everything. Living with Pettis and Frank Clarke and Amos Marsh in the same apartment complex in Dallas, I got to know Pettis really, really well. He taught me some things — where to go and where not to go — and kind of kept an eye on me and made sure I didn’t get myself into any trouble. I really appreciated that. We played a lot of golf together and became really good friends.”

The Late Don Meredith, Dallas Cowboys Quarterback
“If I was going into battle and they’d only let me take one guy with me, I’d pick Pettis Norman every time.”

The Late Dan Reeves, Dallas Cowboys Running Back and NFL Assistant Coach and Head Coach
“I was influenced a great deal by Pettis. He’s the kind of tight end I’d want (as a coach). You can’t have a good running game without that position because my offense ( as a head coach) was built around the same thing I had learned in Dallas as a player. The blocking aspect was always influential when I was looking for tight ends as a coach and Pettis was the one I always looked at as the mold for the kind of tight end I was looking for — a guy who could run like a deer, catch the ball, and be a great blocker.”

Gil Brandt, Dallas Cowboys Vice-President of Player Personnel and Pro Football Hall of Fame
“Through hard work and diligence and great blocking technique, Pettis became a starter in Coach Landry’s offense. All that hard work led him into a highly successful post-football career. One thing I’ve always respected is how he and Cornell Green never gave up on the south side of the city (of Dallas) and still work to its benefit today. I’m so proud to call Pettis one of my friends for almost 60 years.”

Cornell Green, Dallas Cowboys All-Pro Defensive Back
“Pettis was a good athlete. He was strong and competitive; he would compete for the whole 60 minutes. As a person, Pettis is honest, smart, and well-liked; he gets along well with people. He’s an all-around good guy.”

Rayfield Wright, Dallas Cowboys Hall of Fame Offensive Tackle
“A lot of my blocking skills came from the teachings of Pettis. Pettis had a great influence on players on our team because he was dedicated and committed to doing his job. And Pettis was a guy whose commitment went beyond the football field. He did a lot in his community; he helped a lot of people advance themselves. I could talk all day about what Pettis has meant to me in my life. It’s a blessing for me to have this opportunity to share my feelings about this man.”

Calvin Hill, Dallas Cowboy Running Back
“I think Pettis is the personification of a real American man, as a father, as a husband, as a teammate. If you had a daughter, he’s the kind of man you would want your daughter to marry. If you’re on a team, he’s the kind of teammate you want to have. If you live in a neighborhood, he’s the kind of neighbor you want to have. He’s a wonderful man, a wonderful citizen, and a wonderful friend. In regards to opportunity, he epitomizes the best of America. He had a rough deck stacked against him, but it never stopped him from succeeding.”

Lee Roy Jordan, Dallas Cowboys Linebacker
“He showed people how to do the job and set a great example for everyone. He was a great leader and was instrumental in improving relationships on the Cowboys. He stood tall.”

Walt Garrison, Dallas Cowboys Fullback
“Tight ends in Tom’s offense had to block, that was a big part of our offense, and Pettis was a hell of a blocker. Pettis could catch too; he could catch anything.”

Jerry LeVias, San Diego Wide Receiver
“Our San Diego teammates called Pettis “Rev,” short for “Reverend.” It’s because he was so revered by other members of the Chargers. Whenever he spoke to the team in a meeting, we would wait until he finished speaking and then say, “Let’s get an Amen!” It was a sign of respect that was very moving to me.”

Mike Garrett, San Diego Running Back
“Pettis was a great addition to the team and he’s as nice a person as he was a good football player. He was always doing good things for people and is just a good human being.”


The Reverend Jesse Jackson, Civil Rights Leader
“Pettis Norman has been a man of action throughout his eighty-one years. From his days in the NFL, he marched for civil rights and later volunteered his time and talent in my presidential campaigns that defied all expectations and radically expanded the role of Black voters in national Democratic politics. He has ardently supported Rainbow Push Coalition initiatives and involved himself in the betterment of humanity. At this moment, after a life spent in service, it is he who deserves due credit and our gratitude. How wonderful that he has written an autobiography. I’m proud to call him a national treasure and my friend.”

Dorothy Counts-Scoggins, Civil Rights Pioneer
“Pettis located to Charlotte after his father died and became good friends with my family. He was like a big brother to me at Johnson C. Smith University after I had made that initial attempt to attend Harding High School as a Black student on an all-White campus. Pettis has marched and sacrificed as well for the cause of equality, all detailed in his book.”

The Reverend Peter Johnson, Civil Rights Leader
“Many people are not aware of how generous and selfless Pettis has been in my life and the lives of many others. As most people know, civil rights leaders do not have regular income and are dependent upon organizations and people to fight for justice. Pettis fed me when I was hungry; he gave me a van when I needed transportation, and a key to a home for me and my family to help me remain in the fight for Civil Rights. He helped me remain steadfast as an agitator in the movement during a very difficult time in our history and risked his career to fight for justice for all people.”

Rene Martinez, Member of the Dallas Mayor’s Task Force on Safe Communities and Past Chairman of the Dallas Chapter of the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC)
“Pettis and I co-chaired Jesse Jackson’s presidential campaign. We were able to pull together a coalition of Blacks and Browns and generate more votes for Jesse Jackson than Walter Mondale in Dallas County. I got to know Pettis in the political arena and on a personal level. I knew his family very, very well. It was an honor to be a groomsman at his wedding to Ivette. The Mexican custom is to call a groomsmen a compadre, and I am Pettis’ compadre — his brother and friend.”

Dr. Harry Robinson, Founding Director, African American Museum of Dallas
“Pettis Norman is the epitome of athlete, scholar and gentleman. He is an example of what can come out of an HBCU. We point to him as a role model, especially for our younger athletes. His activities off the field have been exemplary. His character and integrity are unquestionable. He is compassionate, yet firm. Pettis and Ivette have been staunch supporters of the African American Museum. Pettis honored the Museum by permitting it to induct him into The Texas Black Sports Hall of Fame. His legacy as a servant leader will inspire us for years to come.”


Dr. Tony Evans, Senior Pastor of Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship, Founder of The Alternative with Dr. Tony Evans, Bestselling Author, and Former Chaplain of the Dallas Cowboys
“Pettis has been a treasure to our community and a great unifier. I highly admire Pettis and his devotion to the great Commandments to love God and his neighbors.”

The Reverend Dr. Zan Wesley Holmes, Jr., formerly of the Texas House of Representatives, Recipient of The Linz Award, Former United Methodist District Superintendent, and Pastor Emeritus of St. Luke “Community” United Methodist Church in Dallas
“Pettis and his wife Ivette make a great team and are role models for new generations and those in the trenches today. I’m so pleased Pettis has written an autobiography that includes such great perspective and life lessons. I’m partial, but he deserves this praise.”


The Late Charley Pride, Legendary Country Western Singer and Musician
“Pettis was a great football player and successful businessman. But did you know his athleticism extended to golf? We sponsored a lot of charitable golf tournaments, and I’m glad he captures those philanthropic memories in his book.”


Robert Decherd, Chairman, President and Chief Executive of Dallas News Corporation, parent of The Dallas Morning News
“Pettis is one of the true citizens of Dallas who cares, a former sportsman who devoted half his time to civic matters and never sought notoriety after his football career. He was always a person who exhibited calmness and had an innate insightfulness in his approach to very complex problems — calm and reasonable. He could lead men and women because he was just extraordinarily respected. Everyone was in the same place in their regard for Pettis. I remember when he approached me about the Dallas Together Forum. ‘We need to do this,’ he said, just dogged about the need and obligation to make it work. I agreed. It is hard to say no to Pettis and the city is a better place because of it. I’m glad he’s chronicling these moments in his book.”

Michael Meredith, Director, Screenwriter, Producer and Son of Don Meredith
“As far back as I can remember, my dad spoke fondly of his “Buddy ol’ pal, Pettis.” Later in life when I became friends with Pettis myself, I understood why. He has that rare combination of grace, courage and fierce determination. I feel very lucky to know him and to have worked with Pettis on several of my film projects. From what I know of his life, the book is bound to be amazing.”

Clifton Truman Daniel, Grandson of President Harry S. Truman, Former Director of Public Relations for Truman College in Chicago, Feature Writer and Editor for the Morning Star and Sunday Star-News, and Honorary Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Harry S. Truman Library Institute
“On the surface, what you have here is a nice story about a president who loved a pie and wanted the recipe, and the chief master steward who wasn’t quite ready to give it up, even to his commander in chief. But if you look a little deeper, what you see is two men, both named Harry, who served their country ably and honorably and, when they met, treated each other with respect and good humor. If that isn’t an example for the rest of us, I don’t know what would be.” (speaking of Pettis’ father-in-law)

The Late, Great Jack Buck, Longtime NFL Broadcaster for CBS
“Norman Pettis… Pettis Norman. He’s good. Both of ’em.” — referring to Buck’s habit of misstating the name “Pettis Norman” as “Norman Pettis.”

Bill Mercer, inductee into the Texas Pro Baseball Hall of Fame, North Texas Athletic Hall of Fame, Texas Radio Hall of Fame, Oklahoma Broadcasting Hall of Fame, Dallas Press Club “Living Legend of North Texas Journalism,” and Texas Sports Hall of Fame
“I got to know Pettis in 1966 and thought he was the finest young man I had ever met in my life. I told Pettis he was a good leader, an important trait in football. He is such an intelligent person with a great personality, congenial and one of the good guys. He succeeded as a football player, but more importantly has always been dedicated and hardworking. He was interested in everything and held down a lot of off season jobs, and this helped prepare him for a successful post-NFL career.”

Verne Lundquist, inductee into the Sun Bowl Hall of Fame and National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association Hall of Fame
Pettis and I go back a long way. I first heard about him when he joined the cowboys in 1962. Five years later, I came on board as a broadcaster with the Cowboys Radio Network and met him in person at games and after games. Pettis was a gregarious and humble man, and still is. We knew a lot of the same people and have been friends ever since.”

Dale Hansen, Sportscaster and ABC Weeknight Sports Anchor
“I would simply say, my life is better because of Pettis Norman, my city is better because of Pettis Norman. He has led a life that should be a model to all of us.”

Brad Sham, Broadcaster and “Voice of the Dallas Cowboys”
“Pettis is a person who did the right things for the right reasons, and maximized his reputation to cause change for the greater good. He made a tremendous difference as a football player, but an even greater difference as a citizen. He’s an inspirational leader and really understands what the ‘60s and ‘70s meant for minorities, much more so than most folks. He led by example and still does, and has such high character. It’s as if he realized early on that his life was meant to be bigger than football.”

David Woo, Dallas Morning News and Photographer of Presidents
“I’ve known Pettis for more than forty-five years and had the honor and pleasure of photographing him many times. One of my favorite portraits I made of him was with his beautiful horses for a Dallas Morning News “High Profile” cover. This will be a great book!”

James “Jim” Washington, Author and Former Publisher of The Dallas Weekly
“Pettis Norman is a rare human being. He walks with the proverbial “every man” with confidence and comfort.  From community and civic icon to corporate leader, he is one man who is respected by all, even when his courage demands he stand alone.  I am grateful and appreciative that he has stood with me and I with him on many a battlefield. Even when I may have doubted victory, his presence on my side let me know there was no question we would ultimately win out. I call him friend.”

Scott Murray, Former NBC Nightly News Sports Director (Dallas/Fort Worth and Washington, D.C.), named Sportscaster of the Year seventeen times, “Living Legend of Journalism” (Press Club of Dallas), and Recipient of the Silver Circle Lifetime Achievement Award (National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences)
“Aside from making a name for himself as a former NFL player, Pettis is even more noteworthy as a civic leader in Dallas. He’s passionate about people, no matter their walk in life, and is particularly interested in the welfare of his fellow veterans. I relate to Pettis because he’s one of the hardest working people around, not for fame and glory, but because he cares about being a difference-maker. He exemplifies the words that I share with my listeners as I close my radio show each week: “Live your life as a Go-Getter… Share your life as a Go-Giver!”

Brady Tinker, Host of A Cowboy Life, President of Brady Tinker Sports, Tinker Productions, and ScrewTop Media
“Pettis paid me a real compliment by referring to me as a storyteller. That, indeed, is what I love to do. We need more uplifting stories in the world — not the mass-produced headline stories, but stories from the heart about people who have lived their best lives. That’s what Pettis gave my audience — a heartfelt story that inspires others to do their best, persevere, and leave the world a better place. He has lived an amazing life and still has more to do. What an example for us all.”

Bob Johnson, General Manager of The Charlotte Post
“Pettis Norman has always handled his responsibilities, be it classroom or athletics, with intensity.  He carried that same highly concentrated action to the corridors and the football field at Johnson C. Smith University, where he finished with many accolades – too many to mention here.  Even with all the intensity in the classroom and athletic field, Pettis was a humble soul and true ambassador for his school and community.  That being said, Pettis took all of the skills he learned to Dallas, and the Cowboys.  There he became a notable player who helped the franchise become of the NFL’s best and a very successful businessman. He truly belongs in the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame alongside his friend Freddie ‘Curly’ Neal.”


On behalf of President Lyndon B. Johnson, the Late Honorable Graham Purcell, United States Representative from the Texas 13th Congressional District
“Dear Pettis, the President has asked me to send you the attached souvenir of your visit with him, along with his best personal regards. Pettis, you are just too bashful! Follow the lead of we politicians and don’t hide your light under a bushel when there’s a photographer around. Once again, thanks for your fine effort in communicating with the school children in the District of Columbia. If I can ever be of any personal assistance to you, just let me know.”

Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson, Representing the 30th Congressional District of Texas in the U.S. House of Representatives
“This book shines a spotlight on pro-sportsmanship, business acumen, and the importance of political involvement, but is also a story that takes us back to our early roots as African Americans. It shares our collective voice in all we have overcome and hope to achieve in the future — truly the remarkable journey of a leader who stood by justice, fairness, and family.”

Ron Kirk, Former U.S. Trade Representative for the Obama Administration and Former Mayor of Dallas
“Pettis Norman was a mentor, role model and friend because he was relevant to me in all aspects of my life. One of the things I most admire about Pettis is that he is a father who raised three girls. I loved the way they loved him and the support he gave to his daughters. If you wanted to know how to be a good father, Pettis Norman was the kind of man you looked up to. If you wanted to know how to be a good entrepreneur, Pettis Norman was one of those people you talk to. If you wanted to help bridge Dallas’ racial divide and get the city to move together, Pettis Norman was one of those people you had to talk to. If you were a Dallas Cowboy fan, Pettis was our guy. Yes, Bob Hayes was great and some of the others were great too, but Pettis was one of the Black Cowboys who stayed here, stayed involved in the community, was visible, approachable, and you could touch him. I love the fact that he never failed to remind people he came from a small HBCU, which was refreshing. Any box I would want to check about the kind of man I’d like to be, Pettis checks that box for me. He just has that presence, which is apparent in his book. What a wonderful autobiography.”

Commissioner Rodney Ellis, Precinct 1,  Harris County, Houston
“When Pettis commends me for all I’ve done for our state and country, I tell him, ‘Well, I had good teachers, including you, Pettis.’ I got to know Pettis over time, and there were not many people in Dallas who could pull a diverse group of high-profile corporate leaders together to create a more inclusive city. I chose Pettis as a Gubernatorial Advisor because he was the biggest name in the private sector in Dallas back in the late 90’s. I had knowledge of what he was doing with the Dallas Together Forum and was impressed with his accomplishments. We’ve worked together on a number of political goals and just causes over the years, and I’m glad that he’s sharing his experiences through this book. Back in the day, Pettis was ‘Mr. Dallas,’ and even today, he remains an important bridge builder. Pettis has had a hell of a ride.”

Commissioner John Wiley Price, District 3, Dallas
“Just about everyone in Dallas knows that a conversation with Pettis benefits everyone. He’s a “solutions” type of person, calm and levelheaded. He looks beyond what separates people and focuses on what brings us together. I’ve always admired him as a businessman, but also as a person who cares deeply about the community. Dallas is a better city because of a servant leader named Pettis Norman.”

Senator Royce West, Representing the 23rd District in Dallas
“The Senate of the State of Texas recognized Pettis Norman as a treasure in the Lone Star State on the occasion of his 80th birthday, based on his many years of sportsmanship, entrepreneurism, and civic involvement. Truly, Pettis has impacted many lives on a local, state and national level, and witnessed many historic and cultural milestones. We appreciate his journey through civil rights and unwavering support of social justice causes, which is chronicled in his autobiography.”

Mayor Michael S. Rawlings, City of Dallas
“Pettis is a truly unique individual who has made a difference in our city on many levels. Not only was he an athletic star that hundreds of thousands looked up to, but he also transformed himself into a successful businessman, breaking color barriers in several professional endeavors. But he didn’t stop there. He became a civic leader by partnering with other leaders across the city in Dallas’ attempt to grow minority contracting and minority inclusion through the Dallas Together effort. And he kept working. I called upon him as we assessed our schools’ performance to ensure that the African American community was heard and heard clearly. He did that job with the same sense of excellence he has carried throughout his whole life.”

The Late Honorable Martin Frost, 25th Congressional District of Texas in the U.S. House of Representatives
“Twelve Dallas-Fort Worth area business were presented with “Quest for Success Awards.” This award, presented by the Dallas Morning News, the Miller Brewing Co., and the Dallas Black Chamber of Commerce, recognizes outstanding achievement by minority business owners. Three of the businesses were located in my congressional district: Proline Corp., Dodd, Frazier & Associates, and Pettis Norman, Inc. I’m proud of these firms and congratulate them on this much-deserved award. I look forward to their continued success and to more outstanding contributions by minority enterprises.”

The Late Honorable James M. Collins, Texas House of Representatives
“The biggest environmental achievement in the Nation this year [1972] has been the addition for the Trinity River Dallas Greenbelt. HUD, through its Legacy of Parks Program, on August 28, 1972, gave a $2,235,187.50 grant to the City of Dallas. This is the largest park grant in America this year. Combined with this, Dallas will add $1,117,593… The Dallas Park Board is to be commended on this farsighted development. The President of the Dallas Parks is Dr. William B. Dean and the V.P. is J.D. Wright. The members of the Board are: Ebby Halliday Acers, Lee Drain, John D. Gilliland, Floyd V. Gish and Pettis Norman.”


Robert “Bob” Crandall, President & Chairman of American Airlines
“The Dallas Together Forum was unusual in the context of that day and time. Pettis turned the notion of minority inclusion into a ‘topic’ we could all rally around. It was a very appropriate movement and I was glad to have an opportunity to provide support. I think the Dallas Together Forum had a long term favorable impact on minority-owned businesses and on the economic momentum that has carried Dallas forward in the years since.”

The Late Ross Perot, CEO of Electronic Data Systems and Perot Systems
“I never intended to buy a tent, but I was so impressed with Pettis, the salesperson, I bought it.” (speaking of an encounter with Pettis at Sears & Roebuck)

Ron Haddock, Former President & CEO of FINA, Inc.
“As a global firm, our corporate culture emphasized inclusion early on, and we were serious about it. When opportunities emerged to mentor smaller businesses, we did so, and Pettis’ was one of the most dominant participants. Our corporate efforts segued with the goals of the Dallas Together Forum, and I personally participated in this worthy initiative. I feel FINA made a difference and the Dallas Together Forum made a difference, and collectively Dallas is a better city because of it.”

Tom Dunning, Chairman Emeritus of Lockton Dunning Benefit Company and Past Chairman of the Dallas Citizens Council
“Pettis is very effective leader because he is a good listener and an excellent communicator. When he speaks, people listen. Why? Because he speaks slowly, sincerely, and clearly explains his point of view, which encourages those in the room to agree with him. He’s one of a kind and has never hesitated to state who he is and what he believes. While playing for the Dallas Cowboys, he started speaking out on public education. The press often referred to him as an activist rather than a civic leader, but this never stopped him. He has continued to address issues that are important to African Americans and all Dallas residents.”

Liz Minyard, Former Co-Chairman and Co-Chief Executive Officer of Minyard Food Stores
“Pettis worked on several City of Dallas committees which gave him a foundation for the Dallas Together Forum. He was always respected in the community, and this was vital. To change things, we have to respect the change leader. His wife and daughters worked with him in his family business — a lot of people assumed that being an athlete had advantages, but it takes more than a name to be successful. You have to demonstrate ability and desire. You have to go above and beyond, and Pettis demonstrates this in his autobiography.”

Bill Solomon, Former CEO of Austin Industries
“I came to know Pettis very well and greatly respect his character, leadership and effectiveness. Dallas was and is fortunate indeed that football brought Pettis here and that he remained to help make Dallas a better place for all. And we who have gained Pettis’ friendship in the process are likewise fortunate. So many of these great friendships and collaborative accomplishments are chronicled in his book.”

Erle Nye, Former CEO of TXU Electric
“I have worked with Pettis to address many civic and community challenges, some of which he includes in this book. He has achieved so much in eighty years and his service to others is notable. I have always admired how he carries himself, so thoughtful and considerate, while working for the common good. Pettis’ leadership from bygone decades to this current moment has made a difference in this world, and I am proud to call him my friend.”

Pete Schenkel, Former President and Principal owner of Schepps Dairy
“Pettis opened doors in the community, and more so the African American community that had encountered a closed door for a long time. Now those doors have swung wide open. Young African American and Hispanic kids today are doing well financially because of Pettis Norman. I really believe that. He has a quiet professional manner and I’ve never heard him brag. He is never one to pat himself on back, so I’ll do it for him.”

Don Williams, Former Chairman and Chief Executive of Trammell Crow
“Pettis was smart and fearless throughout the struggle with the public education system. We wanted to see if we could overhaul the entire DISD organization, especially the curriculum, and he was the only guy who was respected enough to pull off such big-time negotiations. We could not have gotten unanimously through the finish line without his leadership. He brought order and peace, and his word is his bond.”

Joe Alcantar, Co-Founder and President of Alman Electric Company
“Pettis spearheaded the Dallas Together Forum and was the catalyst for making it work. He exemplified leadership and had the ability to cross lines into the Anglo, Hispanic and African American communities. Bill Solomon and I were co-chairs and worked with Pettis to draw upon the makeup and quality and diversity of the city. We embraced it rather than pulling against it. That’s what made the Dallas Together Forum successful, as chronicled in his book.”

Preston D. Buckman, Special Facilities Manager, Mecklenburg County Park and Recreation
“In 2017, Mr. Pettis Norman was inducted into the Mecklenburg County Sports Wall of Fame. The purpose of the Wall is to recognize individuals who have made outstanding contributions to his or her sport, to reflect great credit and recognition upon Mecklenburg County.  Mr. Norman was one of the premier athletes of his time. He spent his college years attending Johnson C. Smith University in Charlotte, North Carolina where he was a prolific football player, earning First Team Currier All American honors in 1962.  After graduating he went on to play in the NFL for several teams and won first runner-up for NFL’s Man of the Year award in 1972, showing his level of leadership on and off the field. His dedication to the community continued after his playing career finished. He went on to become a very successful businessman and leader within his community.  Mecklenburg County Park and Recreation is honored to have Mr. Norman represented on our Sports Wall of Fame.”


Johnson C. Smith University President Clarence D. Armbrister
“All around excellence and the ability to continually reinvent himself – these are two characteristics to describe Pettis Norman. As a stand out student-athlete and graduate of Johnson C. Smith University, he exemplifies the JCSU Golden Bulls spirit. The JCSU Loyalty Song implores us to Hold High the Gold and Blue. Throughout his life, Pettis has been proven to have the golden touch of King Midas. After playing for more than a decade in the NFL, Pettis utilized his JCSU education to start a successful career in banking and then entrepreneurship. He is a steadfast servant leader who has advocated for civil rights and social justice. His impact and contributions to American athletics, business and philanthropy deserve to be recognized and celebrated. The JCSU family is forever grateful to our very own Pettis Norman.”

The Late Eddie McGirt, Johnson C. Smith University Coach and Educator
“If I had ten more Pettis Normans, I would never lose a game.”

Dr. Dorothy Yancy, 12th President of Johnson C. Smith University
“I met Pettis when we were both Johnson C. Smith University students and watched his career in the NFL soar. He later served twenty years on the JCSU Board of Trustees, bringing the perspective of a student, student-athlete, and businessman. We love when he visits the campus; how wonderful that he has shared the JCSU backstory in his autobiography.”

Shirley Ison-Newsome, Former Assistant Superintendent and Dallas ISD Administrator
“I believe this book about the life of this extraordinary man will inspire, educate, and lift up the best in Black lives – lives that matter and survive through it all! A life that serves as an example for unlimited possibilities for all who persevere, who live a life of service to others, and who are grounded by faith!”

Wanda Foy-Burroughs, Johnson C. Smith University Class of 1973 and Director of Alumni Relations
“Pettis Norman, an outstanding alumnus, has had a longstanding relationship with Johnson C. Smith University (JCSU), and has demonstrated exceptional financial commitment and dedicated service to his alma mater. A 1962 graduate, Pettis was a standout on the Golden Bulls football team and was a major contributor to the success of the track and field team during his undergraduate days. The Pettis Norman Award, the highest honor conferred by JCSU Athletics, is given annually to the University’s male and female athletes-of-the-year.”


The Late Master Chief Harry Hightower, 50-year Naval Officer and Civil Servant, and Inventor of the USS Missouri Buttermilk Pie Recipe
“I had the honor of serving aboard the USS Missouri and baking a buttermilk pie for President Harry S. Truman. I’ve always enjoyed sharing stories of President Truman with my son-in-law Pettis. You can tell Pettis has a military background by his work ethic and love of duty and family. I’m very proud of him.”

Command Master Chief David Carter, Norfolk Naval Station
“I had the opportunity to meet Pettis while I was the Command Master Chief for Naval Station Norfolk. Rarely have I met a man with such kindness, humility, and generosity. He is a shining example of what one can do through hard work, perseverance, and dedication. I will be looking forward to reading his book when it is released.”


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