“I was just a marginal inductee,” Norman admitted. “I am thrilled to death to receive the honor. Elway is the No. 1 quarterback in Stanford history, I am No. 498, but you know something? … We are in the same club.”
Norman played for the Cardinals from 1958-1960 and was the recipient of the Sammy Baugh Trophy in 1959. In 1961, he was also named the Senior Bowl MVP. Speculation about the length of time it took him to be an inductee had to do with his prestige factor in comparison to the other quarterbacks and players that sported a Cardinal uniform throughout the years.
Norman will now become a part of an elite fraternity, as the Polson resident will be inducted into the Stanford Athletics Hall of Fame. Norman will be inducted with former Cardinals’ basketball player Jarron Collins, soccer player Rachel Buehler, water polo player Jackie Frank, baseball player John Gall, diver Cassidy Krug, cross country runner Arianna Lambie and soccer player Ryan Nelson.
Stanford’s QB list also includes John Brodie, Steve Dills and Andrew Luck, all players that made a successful transition in the NFL. Norman, like his colleagues, also received an opportunity to play in the pro game.
Norman, who was eventually drafted by the Chicago Bears in 1961, an organization run by owner George “Papa Bear” Halas, said the transition from the college to the pro game was “tough.”
“You see a lot of high school players that don’t make that jump to college ball and a lot of college ball players that don’t make that jump to pro football and I would fall into that category,” Norman said. “I wasn’t good enough for the NFL. There is just no other way to put it. I showed enough potential to hang around for a few years and playing in the NFL will always be a wonderful experience that I treasure.”
Norman, originally a native to Downey, Calif., was drafted in the NFL and AFL draft. Norman was a fourth-round draft choice in the NFL by the Bears and a fifth-round draft choice by the pure AFL Oakland Raiders, run by now deceased NFL owner Al Davis.
“When I was in Everett, my first wife and I were out golfing. The golf pro came out said ‘Dick you have a phone call.’ I said ‘take a number’ and I went back to golfing. Halas said he was talking with the 49ers and I know you would probably appreciate a better opportunity but if you want and you are willing to come back and compete with us some more and the deal (with then 49ers coach) Red Hickey went through.”
After Norman “washed out” with the 49ers, he went on to get his master’s degree at the University of Chicago and achieved success in the work world.
“I went to Chicago and got my master’s degree in business,” Norman said. “I did very well but there were a couple of bad apples that took the entire company down. I wanted to get out on the West Coast and work with big companies and little companies and everything in between. I had some great experiences. I worked with terrific people and I learned a lot.”
Norman, a 1956 Lynwood High School graduate (Lynwood, Calif.), said he always excelled in sports.
“Baseball was always my preference and I would play basketball and football in the off season to keep in shape for baseball,” Norman said. “Then, I got into high school and I still played all three sports. Football worked out a little bit better and eventually worked out into a scholarship in college.”
Norman said his passing numbers were the beneficiary of the revolutionary passing game Stanford had at the time. Norman, who was a freshman when former 49ers quarterback Brodie was a senior, led the nation with 1,963 passing yards and threw for more than 1,000 yards.
“We were a little bit ahead of the game on the passing game,” Norman recalled. “Back then, they had a ball-control mentality. We wanted to prove our guys in the trenches were better than their guys in the trenches. That was the popular motif. We were ahead of the curve. I would give credit to Jack Curtis, who was our head coach, and Chuck Taylor, who stayed at Stanford.”
Norman said he always had an affinity to be in a leadership role, particularly quarterback.
“I was pretty much always a quarterback going way back to junior high,” Norman said. “For the sake of not being humble, I ran the show. I understood the game and I was able to project that into business leadership. Back then, we played both offense and defense, so I also played defensive back because there was limited substitution back in those days. You were expected to contribute on defense. You just played both ways. It was really that simple.”