The week after the Josh Norman-Odell Beckham fight(s) in the Meadowlands last December, the Panthers’ former cornerback was noticeably more restrained in his dealings with the media.
Team officials had asked Norman to tone it down as the Panthers continued chasing a perfect season (not coincidentally, the quest ended the following week at Atlanta).
Well, the muzzle’s off now and Norman is not holding back.
In a wide-ranging interview for this week’s ESPN the Magazine cover story, Norman took a couple of swipes at his former team and brought out the big guns on topics such as Commissioner Roger Goodell (''Horrible. He's straight horrible.'') and the NFL's crackdown on big hits (''What happened to us? Society is so soft.'').
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"They kind of shunned me," he said. "They turned down a lot of stuff for me, interviews, sponsorship deals, stuff I didn't even know about. They wanted it to be about the two main guys, Cam and Luke."
Norman reiterated in the piece he was willing to play under the franchise tag before general manager Dave Gettleman pulled it. An excerpt from the story by Kevin Van Valkenburg, who spent two days with Norman in Paris in May:
It was general manager Dave Gettleman who decided he wasn’t going to sign Norman to a long-term deal, then released him, leaving Norman feeling blindsided. He says the Panthers never really gave him a reason; they simply moved on. Shouldn’t fans be mad at them, not him? (The team responded to a request for comment by wishing Norman “nothing but success in Washington.”)
Norman said he also likes that he’s in a place where he can more freely express himself. He’s under contract to do pre-game commentary before Fox’s NFL broadcasts this season, something that probably would not have gone over well in Carolina.
“I just feel like I can grow,” Norman said in the ESPN the Magazine story. “In Washington, it feels like everybody can say whatever they want. It’s a free-flowing kind of place. It’s like going from a dictatorship to freedom.”