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Community Spotlight: Kickin’ it with a former NFL star

By RACHEL BRANT

Staff writer

Norm Johnson spent 18 years in the NFL playing for the Atlanta Falcons, Pittsburgh Steelers, Philadelphia Eagles and our own Seattle Seahawks. But after making his mark as a NFL kicker, the Southern California native decided to try his hand at selling real estate in Kitsap County.

Johnson recently made local and national headlines after pulling a woman from an overturned car on Olympic View Road in Silverdale. He was taking his 11-year-old son to school when he saw the overturned vehicle and pulled the driver to safety.

We recently visited Johnson at his Reid Real Estate office and caught up with the former NFL star.

Question: Why did you and your family decide to move to Silverdale?

Answer: In 2000, we needed to move back to the Northwest. We lived in Atlanta and my wife and I decided we had to move back to the Northwest. We said ‘what about Kitsap County?’ It’s close to relatives, but still in God’s country. We love it here in Silverdale.

Q: What is your favorite part of Silverdale?

A: It’s very beautiful and seeing it everyday you don’t think about it until going to other places. I love the water and beauty of the area. It’s a small town feel and it feels like a close-knit community.

Q: How long were you with the Seattle Seahawks?

A: Nine years, from 1982-1990

Q: What is one of your most memorable NFL moments?

A: I did get to play in the Super Bowl in 1995 with the Pittsburgh Steelers, that was the highlight of my career.

Q: What was your most important kick?

A: You would hope that in 18 years there would have been quite a few important kicks. One of the kicks I’m most proud of was my surprise onside kick in the Super Bowl. It was the only successful onside kick in the Super Bowl. There were a handful of game-ending kicks that were pretty important. I kicked a 42-yard field goal in 1989 with Seattle against the Kansas City Chiefs to tie the game and another one for the win in overtime.

Q: Do you prefer kicking in a dome or in weather?

A: Inside is probably better, it’s a lot more consistent. There are times when kicking in weather is fabulous. It’s not always a negative to kick outside, but it is more consistent inside.

Q: Do you have a favorite hobby?

A: Watching movies and listening to music. “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” is my favorite movie and I’m a rock guy. I listen to a lot of alternative and new wave rock.

Q: What is the biggest change you’ve seen since you’ve been in Kitsap County?

A: I’ve kind of been watching the revitalization of downtown Bremerton. It’s exciting to see. It’s a city that has been sleeping for so long.

Q: What is your first memory of Silverdale?

A: One of the first things that was really kind of different was going to the rodeo. We went to the Kitsap Fair & Stampede, we’d never been to a rodeo before. My wife and I have been involved with it over the last five years now.

Q: Are you for or against Silverdale Incorporation?

A: I’m very up in the air on that. I’d really like to examine the pros and cons in detail, but I think I’m leaning toward incorporation but the jury’s still out.

Q: Who is the best kicker of all time?

A: It’d be hard to go against Morten Andersen. We came in together in 1982 and he’s still kicking at 47 years old. He’s the all-time leading scorer and he’d probably be the guy if I had to pick one.

Q: Family, kids?

A: I have a wife, Lori, a 19-year-old son Jordan, 16-year-old son Jarrett and 11-year-old son Jameson. My 16-year-old played football and my 11-year-old hasn’t played yet but is thinking about it.

Q: What has been your most memorable vacation spot?

A: I really enjoy Mexico. There’s a few places I’d like to visit. My son recently came back from Australia and I’d like to go there.

Q: What is one thing you want to try in your life?

A: I wouldn’t say I’m real adventurous. I don’t long to bungee jump or skydive, but I’d like to go on a good scuba dive. I just got my card and would like to scuba dive in a really special area.

Q: If you could change one thing about Silverdale, what would it be and why?

A: Being in real estate, I would probably make it a little more development friendly and business friendly. We need to attract businesses to be a thriving community and I’m not sure we’re really attractive for businesses. It’s not very easy to develop commercial or residential property around here and I think it’s important to continue to be a stable community.

Q: If you could have any magical power, what would it be?

A: I think I would like the power of invisibility, but mind reading wouldn’t be bad either.

Q: Why did you decide to work in real estate?

A: I started in 2001 and I think it was because of some friends I’ve had over the years who were in real estate. I admired what I thought their job was and I was struggling to figure out what I wanted to do. It’s a little different than I had imagined, but I still like it.

Q: Is it easier to sell houses because you are a former Seahawk?

A: It probably makes a lot less impact than people would think. I’d say it makes a little bit of an impact at times.

Q: Who has made the biggest impression on your life?

A: The two most influential people were my dad and wife.

Q: What compelled you to get out of your car and help the woman in the overturned car on Olympic View Road?

A: It’s actually something I’ve always done whenever there was help needed in that kind of a situation, so I didn’t think twice about stopping. My son, Jameson, was with me and found a posthole digger in my car and said I could use that to break a window and pull the woman out of the car. I ended up using a rock to break a window, but I was pretty proud of him. I told him later that was really smart thinking. He really liked the idea that we were helping someone. I didn’t think much of it at the time, but apparently it made national news. It’s nice to hear they are looking for good, positive news.

Q: What organizations are you involved with?

A: The Boys & Girls Club, Rotary, Kitsap County Rodeo Cowpokes and my wife is involved with the Admiral Theatre, but I still get involved somewhat.

Q: Is there one in particular that is closest to your heart?

A: They’re all meaningful for different reasons. The Boys & Girls Club is very special and rewarding. The community events, like Rotary, are important and the rodeo has been a community event for a long time and we’d like to see that continue. It’d be hard not to put the kids as No. 1 though.

Q: What’s your favorite holiday?

A: I really like Halloween, but it’s hard to beat the Thanksgiving and Christmas season.

Q: Do people still ask for your autograph?

A: Mostly in fan mail. I still get a few letters a week from people wanting me to sign mostly football cards.

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