ASHBURN, Va. -- The spring adventures ended late last month with Josh Norman losing consciousness in a flight with the Blue Angels. Norman tried to fight it, but it played out just like the pilot had predicted.
Here's what the Washington Redskins cornerback recalls: boasting to the pilot he wouldn't vomit; reaching a G-force of 7, and then ...
"My neck started to get tight, my hands started to grip and I couldn't tell him to stop. We got to go through it, whatever it is," Norman said.
The pilot asked if he was OK. Norman mumbled something, only to have the pilot ask, "Are you sure?"
The easy answer was: No.
"Then I'm slowly losing consciousness, my hand started to go and I was like, 'Oh my gosh,'" Norman said. "Next thing I know, pssssssssh, I'm asleep. Like two, three seconds, he's going, 'You OK, buddy?'"
Norman was fine because he was doing what he wanted -- and needed -- in the offseason. His travels took him to Flint, Michigan, to hand out bottled water; and to Rio Grande Valley in Texas to hand out supplies to immigrants.
He did not attend the Redskins' voluntary workouts. Last year, he participated in "Dancing With the Stars," though he also still participated in the Redskins' workouts.
"When it's time to come back to work, that's what we do," Norman said. "We don't miss a beat. Athletes like myself, we have a different mindset about this. I love the game, I really do, but I respect the game. When I come back I treat it as I did as I was a young kid. I love it and I always will, but there's other priorities that take place as well. My purpose in life is to help others as well."
Norman certainly looked like he was in shape and also showed his competitive side during practice Thursday. Norman wanted to face rookie quarterback Dwayne Haskins. Norman did what the Redskins hope they see more of this season: He made a diving interception for a pick in the end zone, then bounced up and sprinted to the other end zone.
As Norman was running downfield, coach Jay Gruden told an official: "Throw a flag; I want to f--- with him."
"He's a great competitor, that's what makes him great," Gruden said. "He may not have the speed you might want at corner. But the one thing that sets him apart from everybody else is competitiveness. He tends to have better games when he's on better people and he feels challenged. He's got to understand every player is a challenge in the NFL. He's got to step up his game at all times, but he's an excellent player and, I think, very underrated in people's eyes."
Norman, who will count $14.5 million vs. the cap, will start opposite Quinton Dunbar. Norman has been outspoken at times, but the Redskins are good with him.
"I'm great with Josh. He makes our football team better," Gruden said. "That's all I care about, really. We're going to have some issues from time to time where we don't see eye-to-eye, but he's got to understand I am the head coach and what I say goes. Not everybody believes that all the time but that's usually the case. Especially him, but I like Josh. I like where he's at. Wish he was here for OTAs but those are voluntary. But, he was here the last couple days and we see what type of difference he makes. [He] had two picks in two days. We need Josh, we like Josh a lot."
"It's been neglected," Norman said. "I see they needed help, so why not? I'm in a position where I can and I do. That's the difference between people. Whether it's something you can do about it or not, some don't. Others do. And I'm one of those people that are others."
In April, the two players went to Rio Grande Valley together as well. They had also traveled to the border with supplies last offseason.
"You just see how they're living, they want freedom," Norman said. "They're doing it the right way, some people are not. Those are the ones you got to be concerned about, which I understand that. But the ones who are, let's cut them a break. They come and try to get away from something. A lot of people, we have the common decency, we have the necessities. Water, a bed, food, go to sleep at night, we get back up, put on our shoes and go to work. Some people, they don't have that all, they don't even have a cot to sleep on. So, just be mindful of that and understand that there's a lot of people out there that are worse off than us."
Norman said in July, he's going to Afghanistan (he was photographed this offseason at their embassy in Washington D.C.). He's also going to his hometown of Greenwood, South Carolina, to help open a teen center. Then, Norman said, he'll go on a fun trip later in July. And he'll continue to show more sides of himself.
"A lot of people what they say is, 'He's a controversial guy. He's always in it with someone,'" Norman said, "But ... you really don't know me. You really don't. And the thing is, once you see all the stuff that I do and I post it and I put up and I go out and serve others, that's who I really am. I can't hide or try to run from that. Either you are or you aren't. I'll be doing more stuff. It's going to be pretty big. ... This offseason is going to be really fun for us."