Jul. 15, 2015
What Is Up With Josh Norman?
By Maury Jackson, for The African-American Athlete
There was a game inside the game during Thanksgiving Day’s Washington-Dallas NFC East showdown.
Not only did the two teams go at each other, so did Redskins’ cornerback Josh Norman and Cowboys’ wide receiver Dez Bryant.
It was prime time television for their on-field play, in-between play antics, and off-the-field confrontations.
While the Cowboys won the game 31-26, just as big of a story coming out of the game was the Bryant-Norman matchup.
Bryant had a mediocre game _ five catches for 72-yards, with only three catches for 32-yards _ when matched up against Norman.
Bryant’s claim of domination in his three matchups against Norman is simply not true.
"I won't say emotional on my end, I'm [going to] say emotional on his end," Bryant told reporters afterwards. "I was perfectly fine. I was just wearing his ass out the whole night. That's what I was doing, and I enjoyed it. Washington needs to get their money back."
Of course, Norman hit back.
"…I'm trash and he beat me all day? I just don't get it, I don't understand,” he said. “But if that boost his ego, or feed him some fuel or whatever kind of thing he got in his head, so be it.
“I've played the guy three times already and my numbers speak for themselves. He can go and cry, holler, hoot, whatever you want, at the end of the day, zero touchdowns."
Nonetheless, you cannot say Norman has ever won the matchup between the two either.
Throughout the game the two engaged in physical and verbal confrontations, which led to a confrontation, and more talk after the game.
Of course, this is nothing new for the feisty cornerback.
Controversy has followed Norman since he entered the NFL as a fifth-round draft pick in 2012 by the Carolina Panthers out of East Carolina.
Last season as a member of the Panthers Norman and the Giants’ Odell Beckham Jr. engaged in a bizarre series of confrontations during a game.
For sure, we know Dez and Odell are special characters in their own right, but maybe Norman is behind all of this.
Consider: While still playing for the Panthers, Norman and quarterback Cam Newton got into an intense scuffle during training camp.
Really, who fights with the franchise quarterback?
It seems Norman tries to antagonize opponents to the point where football is not the main focus anymore. But if Dez Bryant tells you “where I’m from, we unload the clip,” then, obviously, things have gone too far.
Norman is indeed an outstanding player, but he can be distraction. Even days after the loss when the Redskins, in the midst of a playoff chase, should be looking ahead to their next opponent, Norman was still looking back at his issues with Dez Bryant.
For a team that is on the cusp of reaching the playoffs in back-to-back years, their last focus should be a Thanksgiving game when they have the rest of their season to focus on.
Norman’s behavior gives some insight into why the Panthers decided to let Norman hit free agency. No doubt he is a heck of a player, but he can be a distraction, too.
Maybe he’s not worth the extra antics and trash talk.
Whether you like Odell Beckham Jr. and Dez Bryant or not, it is important to see both sides. Maybe Norman is the culprit behind the extra on-field extracurricular.
Maybe Norman, and his $75 million contract, is proving to be more of a distraction than a benefit to the Redskins.
And maybe, just maybe, Norman should keep his mouth shut and focus on helping his team win. Linked are their comments after the game.
(Maury Jackson is a student at Carnegie Mellon University studying economics/statistics and computer science.)