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Photo: Davenport Daily Times, September 12, 1958

Don Norton

Donald Farris Norton
Born March 13, 1938, Iowa City, Iowa
Died June 23, 1997, Cedar Rapids, Iowa, age 59

University of Iowa
6’2”, 195 lbs

Don Norton grew up in Amarosa, Iowa, a short drive east of Cedar Rapids, where he was a multi-sport star at the local high school. A high jumper and relay man in track-and-field in the spring and a basketballer in the winter, he stood out most on the football team where he played quarterback and halfback.

He went on to the nearby University of Iowa, where he was converted to end going into his sophomore season of 1957. He earned a starting spot later that year and the next season helped the Hawkeyes to a win over Cal in the Rose Bowl. In 1959, he received a first-team All-America nod from the Football Writers Association in Look Magazine and was drafted by the NFL’s Eagles in the fifth round and by Minneapolis/St. Paul in the AFL.

When the Minnesota franchise backed out of the league, Norton signed with both the AFL’s Chargers and with the British Columbia Lions in Canada. His rights were eventually adjudicated in favor of the Chargers, but in March 1960, the AFL awarded him to the Oakland franchise that had replaced Minneapolis/St. Paul.

At the time, Oakland’s head coach Eddie Erdelatz said he didn’t think Norton would agree to play for them and in recognition of that, the Raiders traded him back to the Chargers for defensive end Charley Powell in June. Norton would go on to play seven seasons for the Chargers, appearing in the AFL All-Star game in 1961 and 1962. Just prior to the start of the 1963 season, he suffered a back injury during a weight training session. After a scare that he might be out for the year, he returned shortly after, but was never quite the same again. He began to succumb to injury more often and his quality of play began to diminish. In 1966, he lost his starting spot to rookie Gary Garrison and the Chargers waived him in July 1967.

He bounced around from job to job for a while after football, spending some time in the restaurant industry and as a circulation manager for the Des Moines Register, before getting a steadier gig with Wholesale Contractor Supply in Dubuque. He left that job in the mid-1980s to start the “Voice of the Hawkeyes” magazine, then later did some surveillance work for a couple of area casinos and took a position with the Blue Cross/Blue Shield medical insurance firm.

In 1977, at just 39, Norton suffered a heart attack that put him in intensive care for a while. Bypass surgery restored him to good health, but twenty years later, he again had to undergo open heart surgery and died soon after due to complications. He was just 59.


November 23, 1959 – Selected by Minneapolis/St Paul as a redshirt pick in the 1960 AFL draft.

November 30, 1960 - Selected by the Eagles in the fifth round of the 1960 NFL draft.

January 12, 1960 - Signed by Los Angeles (AFL).

January 30, 1960 - AFL awarded his league signing rights to Oakland, potentially nullifying his contract with Los Angeles.

March 3, 1960 - AFL transferred his contract from Los Angeles to Oakland.

June 1, 1960 – Traded to the Chargers for Charley Powell.

See Also

don_norton.txt · Last modified: 2024/01/12 05:03 by ehaight