Ken Norton, Jr. has been named the defensive coordinator of the Oakland Raiders, the club announced Friday.
ALAMEDA, Calif. – Ken Norton, Jr. has been named the defensive coordinator of the Oakland Raiders, the club announced Friday. Norton, Jr. is entering his sixth season as an NFL coach, having spent the previous five seasons with the Seattle Seahawks. He will be entering his 19th season overall in the NFL, 13 as an All-Pro linebacker for the Dallas Cowboys and San Francisco 49ers.
An 18-year NFL veteran (1988-2000 as a player; 2010-14 as a coach), Norton, Jr. has been a part of four Super Bowl-winning teams (three as a player and one as a coach). He and Raiders Head Coach Jack Del Rio played alongside one another in the linebacking corps of the Cowboys from 1989-91.
From 2010-14, Norton, Jr. served as Seattle’s linebackers coach, helping the team to three NFC West Division titles, two NFC Championships and a Super Bowl XLVIII title. Over that period, Norton, Jr. helped the Seahawks’ defense rank second in total defense (309.5 yards per game) and the unit finished in the top 10 four times (2011-14), including leading the league in total defense the past two seasons.
Helping the Seahawks capture Super Bowl XLVIII after the 2013 campaign, Norton, Jr. tutored LB Malcolm Smith, who was named Super Bowl MVP after posting nine tackles (five solo), a 69-yard interception return for a touchdown and a fumble recovery.
With Seattle emerging as a dominant defense in 2012, Norton, Jr. was instrumental in the development of 2012 second-round draft pick LB Bobby Wagner, who secured his role as the team’s starting middle linebacker and finished second in the Associated Press Defensive Rookie of the Year voting. Wagner led the team with 140 tackles (86 solo) as a rookie.
In his first two seasons in Seattle, Norton, Jr. helped LB David Hawthorne to back-to-back 100-tackle seasons. He also oversaw the development of LB K.J. Wright as he emerged as a starter in the linebacking corps as a rookie in 2011.
Prior to joining the NFL coaching ranks, Norton, Jr. spent six seasons coaching on the defensive side of the ball at USC. He joined USC in 2004 as the school’s defensive assistant/linebackers, before being promoted to the linebackers coach from 2005-08. He was elevated to assistant head coach of the defense/linebackers in 2009.
During his career at USC, Norton, Jr. tutored an impressive group of linebackers who have gone on to have success at the NFL level. Among those players are: Houston Texans LB Brian Cushing, Green Bay Packers LB Clay Matthews, Buffalo Bills LB Keith Rivers, Cincinnati Bengals LB Rey Maualuga and former Seahawks LB Lofa Tatupu. Cushing, Matthews and Rivers were all NFL first-round draft picks.
In 2008, Rey Maualuga was named first-team All-American, Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Year, made his third consecutive All-Pac-10 first team and was USC’s first-ever winner of the Bednarik Award.
In 2007, Keith Rivers was named an All-American first-teamer, and was a first-round pick following the season. In 2006 and 2007, Maualuga and Rivers made the All-Pac-10 first team.
Norton, Jr.’s own 13-year NFL playing career began when he was a 1988 second-round draft pick after earning All-American honors at UCLA in 1987. He was a four-year letter winner for the Bruins from 1984-87 and was a finalist for the Butkus Award as a senior.
He spent his first six seasons with the Cowboys from 1988-93 and then his final seven with the 49ers from 1994-2000. An Associated Press All-Pro in 1995, Norton, Jr. is the only player in NFL history to play on three consecutive Super Bowl-winning teams (Dallas in 1992 and 1993 and San Francisco in 1994).
After retiring from the NFL in 2000, he was a radio and television commentator and analyst, including appearances on the NFL Network. He also served as the defensive coordinator at Hamilton High School in Los Angeles, Calif., in 2003.