The Carolina Panthers have been using perceived slights as motivating chips all season, but it was tough to play the disrespect card at 17-1 and the favorite in Super Bowl 50.
But Denver wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders might have provided one when he threw a little shade at Panthers Pro Bowl cornerback Josh Norman.
Sanders said Wednesday that while he thinks Norman is a good player, he suggested Norman was a media creation.
“He’s talked himself into the media,” Sanders told reporters.
Norman fired back Thursday, the final day players are required to meet with the media this week.
“I think you’d have to be pretty darn good at what you do to talk your way into the spotlight. I’m sure if you’re not good, you’re not recognized as one of the best,” Norman said. “I haven’t been hearing much about him. Obviously he may want to go back and go practice some more.”
Norman has fed off this sort of thing this season, going to his “dark place” against Dallas’ Dez Bryant after the receiver was said to have talked trash about him to Norman’s teammates before the Thanksgiving Day game.
Norman’s emotions boiled over in a Dec. 20 game against the Giants when he and wideout Odell Beckham Jr. were involved in a series of in-game fights and after-the-whistle hits.
Beckham was suspended one game for launching himself at Norman’s head, and Norman was fined $26,000 for his actions.
But Norman seemed to be more amused than upset by Sanders’ comments, attributing them to the media “build-up” to Sunday’s game (which, of course, he was right about).
Norman indicated Sanders’ shade did not merit going to his dark place.
“You have to really do a lot of things to take me (there). And they haven’t pressed the right buttons yet,” Norman said. “I think they’re cool. They’re getting (free) passes right now so they’re cool.”
But he’s reserving judgment in the event Sanders or any other Broncos player engages him at Levi’s Stadium.
“We’ll see those guys on Sunday,” Norman said. “We’ll see if that’s the same talk come (6:30) when we play them guys.”