If you love the Dallas Cowboys, the San Diego Chargers, and the glory days of the 1960s and 1970s old school football, then you’ll love the Pettis Norman Autobiography project. Go to his Facebook page and give it a like — he shares amazing snippets of his life in each post.
I’m so honored that Pettis trusted me with his story — an eighty-one-year story arc of a sharecropping childhood, loving parents, nine siblings, and a serendipitous scholarship to Johnson C. Smith University.
The book also shares civil rights stories, loads of football adventures, a stint behind the microphone for the World Football League, lifelong friendships with NFL buddies, entrepreneurship, humanitarianism, and causes near and dear to the heart. Pettis lived through many amazing moments and served on every major civic board in Dallas. His journey has been astoundingly successful — he’ll tell you it’s all about the work ethic and “Doing until others as you’d have them do unto you” — and there’s never been another autobiography project quite like it before or since.
An Autobiography Project in Dallas, Texas
Pettis and his wonderful wife Ivette live about four hours away, so this autobiography project involved miles and miles of travel. It also involved boxes and boxes of material! As a biographer, one of the most challenging aspects was interviewing dozens upon dozens of extended family members, alumni, university officials, notable politicians and Fortune 500 executives — all providing glimpses of Pettis’ life. Charley Pride, Jesse Jackson, and Clifton Truman Daniel, the grandson of President Harry S. Truman, are just a few of the examples of those who weigh in.
These vignettes and eye-witness accounts are what made the book so mesmerizing — a portal into a humble, honest, modest and extremely successful man’s existence from childhood through retirement in his seventies.
Pettis very kindly said of our collaboration:
Here’s a huge shout out to Melanie Saxton, managing editor for my autobiography at www.pettisnorman.com. Above and beyond the writing and editing, she has been instrumental in conducting dozens of interviews, updating my Wikipedia and IMDb pages, and assisting with social media. I give her tremendous credit for doing a terrific job on my website too. Thank you, Melanie, for being such an important part of my team! ~ Pettis Norman, former Dallas Cowboy and San Diego Charger