| Sports |

Beyond the Norm

He's overdramatic. But also underappreciated. Take it from me and Gordon Keith, he's a big, easy, Polish target. But today -- though it's about a week late -- feels like a good day to praise Norm Hitzges.

His football picks are above .500, his NFL Draft board is still legendary, and his weekly radio guests on KTCK-AM (1310, The Ticket) remain unmatched, but what deserves a pat on the back is his lil' venture called the Normathon. For 18 consecutive hours (5:30 a.m. to midnight) on December 26, Norm talked sports, interviewed the likes of Mark Cuban, Jerry Jones, Roger Staubach and Pat Summerall and generally found ways to keep himself giddy.

"I'll be honest," Norm tells Unfair Park, "the last couple hours are tough. But this year we had about 12 folks come out and stay the full time, right to the end. The support was incredible."

But even more impressive than staying awake is the fact that Norm's event raised more than $250,000 for the Austin Street Centre for the homeless, running his total for the five-year event to more than $700,000.

"The place has just touched my heart because the people are so patient and so helpful to broken human beings," says Hitzges. "It's a job I couldn't do, so I try to help any way I can."

The shelter, which exists strictly on contributions, not only gets homeless off the streets but then educates them, finds them jobs, housing and props them back on their feet.

"Everyone from Tom Hicks to Ross Perot Jr. realizes they're not just warehousing people down there," Hitzges says. "They're improving lives."

Norm is often quirky and sometimes nauseating, an entertaining mix of enthusiasm, emotion and information. And, above all else, Norm nose charity. --Richie Whitt

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