RICHMOND, Va. -- Washington Redskins corner Josh Norman made it clear: The team knew about his deal to appear on Fox’s pregame show. The top bosses have known for quite some time. And now, so does coach Jay Gruden.
"He's cool with it. It's my off time," Norman told ESPN.
"I play football. I'm a football player. I have a job playing football. This is something I do in my off time. It's cool. I'm appreciative of my team and organization. They obviously knew about it [and] had to sign off on it."
But Norman should also know this: By making himself an analyst while still on the field, he’s inviting a massive spotlight on his own play. And that’s before you factor in his paycheck.
Some aren’t sure the former fifth-round pick should be the NFL’s highest-paid cornerback. With that money comes increased expectations and scrutiny. When he gets beat in practice -- and there’s video -- it receives more attention. If he’s ranked as the No. 1 corner in Madden, then it becomes a topic for debate, among players and fans.
This is Norman’s new life, and it’s different than the one he had in Carolina. He went from being a fifth-round pick to one of the NFL’s best defenders, but he was also on a roster that included a bigger personality (Cam Newton). Now, he’s highly paid and a target and the No. 1 personality on a team in a bigger market.
“I get that scrutiny everywhere I go,” Norman told SiriusXM NFL Radio with Jim Miller and Pat Kirwan, who visited camp earlier this week. “All eyes [are] magnified times 10 now. So everything I do, everything I say, pretty much everything when I line up on the field -- everything is always scrutinized. So to know that, and to understand when I’m going in there to try to do the best I can, [I can’t] really worry about what other people say, because they’re always going to have their opinions. The only thing that matters is mine and what I do.”
He's right: What he does is all that matters. The ghosts of Redskins past include too many failed big-time free agents. Norman clearly works hard and isn’t just here to talk; he’s always one of the last players off the field, going through individual footwork drills -- sometimes by himself, other times with younger corners. That won’t be the issue.
But there’s a fascination with Norman -- he kicks a soccer ball in camp! he rides horses! -- so whatever he says or does becomes news. The Redskins dealt with a polarizing figure who was intensely scrutinized the previous four years in quarterback Robert Griffin III.
Norman is not polarizing within the team -- he’s just as likely to spend five minutes kicking the soccer ball with an undrafted free agent (Anthony Lanier) as he is with a star (DeSean Jackson). However, like Griffin, Norman is a guy who will constantly be under the microscope.
Norman knows when you talk a lot, you have to back it up. The Redskins have had too many players who haven’t backed it up in the past. They need Norman’s play to speak louder than anything else.