Former Carolina Panthers cornerback Josh Norman didn’t promise “blood and guts” like ex-Panthers receiver Steve Smith famously did before his revenge game against Carolina.
But Norman left little doubt that he’ll be amped when the Panthers visit Washington on Monday night.
“You guys know me better than I think anyone else and you should know how this is going to go down,” Norman said Thursday during a conference call with Charlotte reporters. “I’m not going to sit there and lie down and die. I’m going to come out and fight. And I’m gonna fight somebody else to try to get a win if I have to.”
Norman, who turned 29 on Thursday, revisited several topics during the 18-minute call that he’d touched on during an interview with the Observer on Wednesday night.
The most interesting was his version of what led Panthers general manager Dave Gettleman to rescind Norman’s franchise tag less than two months after Gettleman said he was comfortable letting Norman play the 2016 season under the $13.95 million tag.
With talks on a long-term contract at an impasse, Gettleman said the idea of a one-year contract for the Pro Bowl cornerback became less appealing.
“My agent is a representative of me and that’s kind of how he took it and looked at it. And I’m like, ‘Well, dang, I thought you would know me better than that.’ And it just went downhill from there,” Norman said.
“It almost felt like I was stabbed the back in a way. But at the same time I’m not saying he probably meant to do that in that way. It’s just probably the business aspect of it and the money factor and what he believed.”
Norman wanted to be paid like one of the top corners in the league. The Panthers weren’t willing to go that high.
Three days after the tag was rescinded, Washington made him the highest-paid cornerback with a five-year, $75 million contract.
Norman, a fifth-round draft pick in 2012, said he’s not sure his big personality played well in the Panthers’ buttoned-up organization – especially after Gettleman arrived in 2013.
“He didn’t draft me. He didn’t bring me in. Marty Hurney did. So at the end of the day, I had no ties to (him). I understand that and I get it,” Norman said. “The personality of how I am probably don’t suit some people in that atmosphere. But it’s cool. I’ve been there my whole life. I’ve done everything there. I gave it my all.
“I gave everything I could do and at the end of the day it seems as if I wasn’t worthy enough to be there. I got fired. I’m kind of taking it like that.”
Panthers coach Ron Rivera was praised during the 2015 Super Bowl season for letting players, Norman in particular, be themselves.
But Norman said he feels more “free” with Washington.
“Over here it seems as if I can button my collar down a little bit, you know? And nothing’s wrong with that, either. It’s to each his (own). It’s what you like,” he said. “But for me, I like to be – I’m free. I’m carefree. I like to do things differently but I do have a sense of respect.”
Norman said Rivera’s discipline – he benched Norman in each of the 2013 and ’14 seasons – made an impact on him.
Norman laughed when asked about Rivera’s benching of quarterback Cam Newton for a series in Seattle for violating the team’s dress code. But then Norman said it was perfect example of Rivera treating everybody the same.
“Nobody is different. That’s the type of stern discipline that they have there. You gotta be suited and booted,” Norman said. “I’m still that way today. You’re not going to catch me without a tie going on a road trip, even though we’ve got a lax dress code. I’m still doing that, because I’ve still got thoughts of shirt and tie, and a jacket.”