Josh Norman attributes ugliness with Odell Beckham to the reality of football


As Washington cornerback Josh Norman prepares to face guys like Odell Beckham Jr. and Dez Bryant twice per year, Norman explains in an item for The Players Tribune the mindset that often results in acrimony on the field.

It traces, for Norman, to having his bologna stolen by older brothers at a time when Norman was too young and small to do anything about it.

Football isn’t unfair,” Norman says. “Life is what’s unfair. Getting your bologna taken is what’s unfair. Football is barbaric. It’s animalistic. It’s my will versus your will. It’s all those things. But it’s not unfair. That’s why I love it.”

He then used that mindset to explain the protracted, out-of-control, back and forth between Norman and Beckham from last December.

“When Odell and I went at one another last year, people got mad,” Norman said. “Imagine that. People who watch this sport every Sunday and say they love it actually pretended to be offended. They don’t see the beauty in it. They don’t see the truth.

“The guy lining up across from me, he knows the truth. There are a lot of people who watch this game, or who are paid to commentate on it, who might not understand the true reality. They might get offended. They might think we’re animals.”

That’s where Norman’s essay is inconsistent. He calls football “animalistic,” but then takes issue with those who thought Norman and Beckham were behaving like “animals.”

The broader flaw in Norman’s argument is that football routinely is played without over-the-top misbehavior from players who took their aggression well beyond the whistle or who engaged in clearly unnecessary acts during a play. If 99.5 percent of all players can do it, Norman and Beckham can, too.

“Odell and I, we know the truth,” Norman said. “Anybody who makes it to this level knows it. The truth is that on the football field, he’s trying to steal my bologna, and I’m trying to steal his.”

That’s fine, but the officials — and the league office — will be taking everyone’s bologna this season if folks can’t control their emotions and confine the exercise of ill will to actions necessary to the overriding objectives of the game. It’s clear that the NFL won’t stand for a repeat of last year’s outcome, and it’s likely that the officials and the powers-that-be at 345 Park Avenue will be paying close attention to everything that happens between Norman and Beckham in 2016, and beyond.

39 responses to “Josh Norman attributes ugliness with Odell Beckham to the reality of football

  1. “Imagine that. People who watch this sport every Sunday and say they love it actually pretended to be offended. They don’t see the beauty in it. They don’t see the truth.”

    No, they do see the truth. The truth is the NFL games are regulated by rules and playing hard within the rules has honor and respects the game. Norman disrespects the game and tells us he is the “Truth.”
    Norman’s Truth is hogwash.

  2. I smell bust and skins overpaid…love it and welcome to cap hell for the next many years. Last place for the next 5 I predict and with zek and morris running the rock Boys win the NFC EAST 5 straight and 2-3 SB’s.

  3. He’s not wrong.

    Set aside these naive notions that NFL players are guys who have trained HARD their entire lives to visit make-a-wish kids, or faux-building playgrounds, or taking selfies with season-ticket holders.

    While it may be contractually obligated, such appearances are pure theater. To make an 53 man NFL roster, you have to commit mind, body and soul to punishing yourself for the privilege of punishing your NFL competition on Sunday.

    If you can’t/won’t bring out your inner dog on gameday, the 2-3 other guys fighting for the same roster spot as you surely will.

    And that makes it an easy job for the coaching staff when cut-down day comes….

  4. I agree with Norman in that it was compelling theater. Two guys who really wanted to play well going at it really hard. They both cared. Refs should have done a better job throwing a few more flags to keep them under control. In particular, Beckham went out of his way to step over Norman while celebrating his touchdown. I thought that should have been a 15-yard taunting penalty.

  5. What is unfair is taking some off-the-cuff remarks from a football player and holding them up for critical analysis. Really all he is saying is that he has no animosity toward ODell Beckam and he looks forward to the competition between them.

    In light of the usual trash talk and twitter feuds between players, he should probably be commended for not going that route. I think this guy is garbage most of the time but I have respect for what he said in this situation.

  6. No it is not part of the game. These incidents rarely happen and when they do, they all get the same reaction.

    It was an embarrassment.

  7. It’s funny how his tone seems to have changed now that he knows he’ll have to try and cover Beckham twice a year.

  8. Why have refs? Why have rules? Why have a sport? Being cheap and dirty and throwing fists isn’t sport, isn’t adult, and just because you play as a pro doesn’t make it acceptable and it doesn’t make you understand the game on a deeper level than anyone else.

    How is he going to talk about the “truth” of the game when he can’t explain it. like “the game” has some deep mystery beyond understanding of those who have not played in the NFL.

  9. I dont see an inconsistency in his essay…he states football is animalisitic, and is confused at the outrage of people because they were acting like animals.

    “are you not entertained???”
    “is this not why you are here???”

  10. No, you are right, life is not fair.
    Prove to the world that 75million is “fair” to play a great game sir.

    PS: Don’t give it back yearly in fines please.

  11. Where did he take issue with anything? He just stated a fact: “people may think we’re animals”. Let’s not pretend that the rules havent changed over the years and only in today’s game is what they did considered a blown out of proportion problem. The game has gotten soft and it’s a sad reflection on our society as a whole. Most players agree with Norman. It’s the suits, arm chair athletes and non-competitive types that take issue.

  12. Actually, the broader flaw in Norman’s argument is that “Football isn’t unfair” is a double negative statement and does not mean what he think it means.

    One assumes that he meant “Football’s not fair”.

    I bet Josh would be willing to not not give me $1m dollars…

  13. LMAO, right after the game he was crying, that Beckham was over the top.. Reality has set in for Norman, he faces Bryant, and then Beckham who beat him 3 times in that game, one was a rare drop by Beckham.. I think he is making peace because Norman knows, he might get his “bologna”($$$) taken away if he doesn’t live up to the hype. Just to be clear, I think Beckham could be a great player, but he was a dirtball in a few games. Hopefully, Beckham has learned his lesson.

  14. I thought that suggesting that Beckham took the bologna is part of what started the over the top brawling.

  15. They both need to grow up and I hope they both did in the offseason.

  16. This reporter and many commenters are missing much of what Norman is saying. He’s not saying the OBJ fracas should be expected all the time. He’s not even saying it’s right, or should be approved. He isn’t saying he will be doing this over and over, either. He’s simply reinforcing that this sport, at this level, requires a talent and willingness to exert maximum physical force on an opponent, which often includes vicious infliction of pain, even within the rules. With that, a natural human side effect will be anger, commensurate with the relative battle at hand, and with that sometimes against the rules.

    There are very few if any NFLers that can say they’ve never lost their cool on the field. Norman is simply stating why it happens, and how if we were NFLers, we’d understand.

  17. Can this guy just shut the hell up for just 10 minutes…..unbelievable how much BS he talks after count it, ONE good season in the NFL. No one had even heard of this guy prior to last year. Good on him for duping the Redskins 15 mil a year though. SMH.

  18. These quotes are why I am going to miss Josh Norman.

    I’m sure that 95% of Washington and Giant fans won’t truly appreciate him.

    And I am not speaking to his football ability at all.

  19. Football is a game that many people don’t truly understand from a mental standpoint….all they see is what’s on their TV screen. What Josh is saying is absolutely true…these guys are going one on one at the highest level…and it takes a certain mindset to be on that level play in and play out.
    Anyone who doesn’t get what he’s saying….has never played any sport on a competitive level…you may have participated…but not truly competed.

    Fact is….the world is just SOFT on many levels nowadays.

  20. COwgal fans saying that Norman is going to be worth it is laughable. The team that should have taken Ramsey, and instead the terrible GM that jerrah is they take Elliot and completely blow any chance they had at being competitive. Thank you from the NFC east.
    Giant fans who think ODB will be a HOF’er haven’t seen steady comp against him in the NFC east. Watch what happens this year when their spending spree doesn’t pay off and Sheli is shown to be the fraud that he is. Eagles, well nothing needed to be said there. Wentz hasn’t played against div 1 level athletes let alone pros.

  21. I’m going to miss Norman too. I hope you ‘Skins fans appreciate him properly. He is wildly entertaining. Long before the domestic violence, we in Carolina knew Greg Norman had a screw loose. That loose screw led him to be a great interview. I still say the greatest post-game quote in NFL history was after our last-minute loss at Atlanta in 2012 – the Falcons kicker joined Matt Ryan in shouting “get the f*** off our field!” and Hardy said of the kicker, “he’s so small and weird-shaped.” Norman has that same loose screw. It makes him creative and funny – as long as you’re not digging into every letter of every word he says or writes looking for something evil.

    And that’s the whole problem – this is a GAME, and it’s supposed to be entertaining and fun. But too many people who need a lot more fiber in their diets are digging into every word or action, looking for even the slightest crumb of something they don’t like so they can call the player evil, immature, disrespectful, stupid or any other insult they can think of. Why can’t we just enjoy the game and the personalities of the players?

  22. OK, that was Greg Hardy with the original loose screw. Desperately need more caffeine……..

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