Tracy Lee Curtis

Panther player’s penalty at work shows difference between his job and mine

Last Sunday, Carolina Panthers cornerback Josh Norman celebrated a touchdown by pretending to ride the football like a horse. And the public was reminded that the NFL prohibits using the ball or any other object, including pylons, goal posts or crossbars, as a prop.

We have that rule too at the Charlotte Observer. I learned it the hard way when I posted a column and then celebrated by pretending my keyboard was a skateboard – and then riding it all around the newsroom.

But that’s where the similarities in our work environments end. Because we’re not even allowed to run in the newsroom. The closest thing to running in my profession is a run-on sentence. And we’re not allowed to throw things. Or kick things. Much less jump around and celebrate. Unless it’s somebody’s birthday.

Josh gets a cool uniform. Free workouts at the gym. Somebody hands him water and he gets paid over a million dollars. I have to wear work clothes, pay for a gym membership, bring my water and scratch lottery tickets in hopes of getting paid over a million dollars.

At least I don’t get fined for anything. Josh got fined over $8,000 for taunting when he waved to the Jaguars quarterback as he returned an interception for a touchdown in the season opener. I can wave to whomever I want.

But he gets a ton of moral support. Over 73,000 people come to watch him work. They buy a ticket to encourage him to have a nice day at the office. If thousands of people sat in a circle around me and pulled for me for three straight hours, I’d have a trilogy published by the end of the season.

And while I like my job, Josh’s job is to cover receivers, defend against pass offenses and make tackles. So his job is to keep other people from doing their job. I would love that! And I’m good at it, like when I talk too long to a co-worker or eat my lunch at their desk. They don’t get anything done.

But nobody cheers for me. Nobody pumps their fist or hollers. Unless I’m about to miss a deadline – then there’s a small amount of that from my editor. And when I post a column, nobody fires a cannon or strikes up the band – or does an instant replay on the big screen of me hitting “send.”

But Josh is a really hard worker. And goes above and beyond in the workplace. In four games, Norman has four interceptions, returning two of them for touchdowns. And he did ask for permission to ride his football. He actually works right across the street from me. We could probably have lunch.

And then come back to my office. And ride my keyboard.

Curtis:; @tracyleecurtis1