Pro Athlete • Community Leader • Businessman • Political Activist

Pettis Norman lives his life guided by one basic principle, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” (Luke 6:31). The former premier NFL athlete went on to become a noted leader in the community, a banker, an industrialist, an entrepreneur, and a political activist who has a legacy that combines personal success with community empowerment.

Improving the quality of life for others is the cornerstone of his life. While still playing football, and beginning to launch his successful business career, Pettis devoted much of his time to serving the community through civic and educational endeavors. He has served on numerous boards and committees and provided opportunities for those who needed support and encouragement to reach their full potential. One of Pettis’ most well-known achievements was creating The Dallas Together Forum, with CEOs from Fortune 500 companies, to address the pressing issues of minorities and women participation in the “bounties of our nation”. The Forum later became a successful model throughout the nation and in communities abroad.

Collegiate/Pro Football

In 1962, Pettis was drafted by the Dallas Cowboys, where he kicked-off a successful professional football career as the team’s starting tight end. He played in Super Bowl V, in five playoff games, and three championship games. He was voted one of the most popular Cowboys by Dallas fans.

In 1971, he was traded to the San Diego Chargers, and a year later, was selected to be the team’s co-captain. Pettis’ outstanding performance on the field earned him recognition and the distinction of being named “Man of the Year” by the San Diego Chargers, and concurrently named first runner-up for the NFL’s Man of the Year. He played with the Chargers until he retired in 1973.


His drive to be the best in everything he pursued began to pay off early in Pettis’ collegiate football career at Johnson C. Smith University where he was named team co-captain, all-conference player, CIAA All-American, and All-Time Great Athlete. He also received the J.M. Murphy Award for Most Outstanding Football Player at the university. Pettis graduated in 1962 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Physical Education.

‘Hall of Fame’ are words that pop up on his resume quite often. He was inducted into the Johnson C. Smith University Hall of Fame, the CIAA Conference Hall of Fame, and the Texas Black Sports Hall of Fame. Along the way, he picked up a few more football honors, including the Top 50 Greatest Dallas Cowboys by the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, and a plaque on the Mecklenburg County Sports Wall of Fame in Charlotte, NC. Pettis has also served as the Chairman of the Pro Athletes Association.

Community Leader

Many civic organizations have benefitted from Pettis’ hard work and dedication to help others. He has served on the Board of Directors of key organizations, including the Boys Club of Dallas, the Dallas Association of the Mentally Retarded, the Martin Luther King Jr. Center, and the Dallas Commission on Children and Youth. He has also served on the Boards of the Dallas Alliance, Dallas Black Chamber of Commerce, Greater Dallas Chamber of Commerce, Dallas Citizens’ Council, Dallas Urban League, Paul Quinn College, and Goodwill Industries. His business and financial expertise was instrumental in his service on the boards of several financial institutions, including First Texas Bank, J.P. Morgan Chase, and Texas Commerce Bank/Chase Bank.


While still playing football, Pettis started his business career at Sears & Roebuck. A successful career in banking led him to become the first African American Vice President of a bank in Texas. Later he ventured into real estate, apartments, restaurant franchising, and single-family housing. He founded four successful companies under the umbrella of PNI Industries. Pettis garnered numerous awards recognizing his success and entrepreneurial spirit, including Outstanding Performance - Minority Supplier of the Year from Southwestern Bell; Gold Star Supplier from Texas Utilities; Minority Supplier of the Year from Frito Lay; and, a Fortune 500 Magazine honor from Shell Oil Company for Successful Supplier. READ MORE He has also received several recognitions from the Dallas/Ft. Worth Minority Business Development Council, including Minority Supplier of the Year, Minority Business Enterprise of the Year, and Regional Supplier/Distributor Firm of the Year.

Political Activist

Pettis made his way into politics in 1968, after being invited by President Lyndon B. Johnson to speak to students during the Washington, D.C. riots. He continued with his activism by working on the Jimmy Carter campaign in 1976 as a member of Blacks for Victory; and, in 1980, he co-chaired the Carter campaign for Dallas and the State of Texas. Pettis was involved in Jesse Jackson’s campaign, serving as co-state coordinator in 1984, president of Jackson’s 1988 Dallas Campaign, and an attendee to the National Convention. Later in 1988, when Michael Dukakis was nominated by the Democratic Party for president, Pettis served as the co-chair of the Dukakis/Bentsen Campaign in Dallas. In 1992, he served as the Dallas Campaign Surrogate for the campaign of President Bill Clinton. Pettis had the honor of being invited to the National Prayer Breakfast by Presidents Johnson, Nixon, and Ford.

Civic Awards/Recognitions

Pettis has been recognized with numerous awards over the years for his diligent efforts, especially within the educational community, and as co-chair of the Mayor’s Task Force to improve the Dallas Independent School District and for co-chairing the Dallas Achieves Commission. He has received a Doctor of Humane Letters, the Humanitarian/Justice Award, and the Distinguished Service Award from Paul Quinn College. READ MORE He was named a Trailblazer, and later an Ombudsman, by the Dallas Business and Professional Women’s Club. The Dallas Jaycees gave him an Outstanding Young Man - Distinguished Service Award; and he has also received an Outstanding Young Man of America award. Other acknowledgements include the Certificate of Merit from the Texas Legislative Black Caucus; the Association of Black Students Award from Southern Methodist University; the Outstanding Citizen of the Year Award by Theta Alpha Chapter of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity; the Liberty Bell Award from the Dallas Bar Association; and the Humanitarian of the Year Award from the Lions Club International District 2-XI.

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