In the midst of another busy offseason – even after his “Dancing With The Stars” journey – Josh Norman spent some brief time in New York City on Tuesday during the “Hashtag Sports” conference to join Ryan Blaney on his “Glass Case of Emotion” podcast.
Kim Coon and Chuck Bush helped moderate the discussion between Norman and Blaney inside an auditorium of fans and listeners, and the two athletes discussed a wide-ranging set of topics – including everything from football to horse riding, racing and social media.
For the purposes of filtering out the less interesting dialogue, below are some of the highlights from Norman’s always candid conversations and stories, one of which is too important not to share here.
Before the podcast ended, those in attendance had the opportunity to ask questions (usually a risky proposition), which ended up revealing a previously unheard story regarding the Redskins’ Week 3 victory over the Raiders last year. You might remember both Norman and safety D.J. Swearinger addressing the media with contempt for Oakland wide receivers Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree after they allegedly talked trash before the game, and were then effectively shut down for the entirety of Sunday night.
Following a Raiders fan’s question about his postgame anger, Norman explained the reasoning behind it. Prior to the game starting, defensive lineman Jonathan Allen (who Norman alluded to as a “D-lineman who went to Alabama”), making just his third start in the NFL, whispered to Norman by his locker that Cooper (a fellow Alabama alumnus) had been talking smack about their impending matchup. “I really wanted to come out there and make sure they knew, like please don’t disrespect us before the game,” Norman said. Following the blowout victory, Norman’s and Swearinger’s comments on Cooper and Crabtree made headlines throughout social media. They should have never happened.
“Basically, I found out that [Allen] lied to me about the whole thing,” Norman said with a surprised look on his face. “So, I’m like, ‘He didn’t say all that?’”
“Nah man, I just really wanted to win, man,” Norman said Allen told him, hoping his words got him more motvated, which they did.
“So I felt bad, I couldn’t take it back, so I’m apologizing now to you,” Norman said towards the Raiders fan. The whole story is at the very end of the video.
Here are some more tidbits from the nearly hour-long chat.
Like most athletes, Norman has his fair share of pregame rituals. He's not superstitious, but he does have habits that remain mostly the same to get him into the right mindset. “Everybody does have something, almost like a manual, they always do it,” Norman said. In his case, that starts with music. Norman is a “big soundtrack guy,” especially anything from Hans Zimmer’s “The Dark Knight” score. He also prefers Young Jeezy’s “The Motivation 101.”
“In high school, I was listening to that, the 101, the instrumentals and just the whole mentality of ‘you gotta get it, you’ve got to grind.’ I had to take that whole persona and use that as the motivation,” Norman said. Then he went into detail about his process once he gets to the stadium.
“I get really stoked and zoned out when I’m on the bus, I’m really calm going over the plays and what’s about to happen,” Norman said. “Then I get off the bus, walk to the locker room, I put all my stuff together, organize, take out my clothes, get ready, I go into my room take a shower, before the game so I feel that everything has been lifted, the weight, the pressure, everything just washes, slams off of me.”
The World Cup is happening and it has Norman’s attention, understandably. A big soccer fan, who mostly supports club teams Manchester United and Paris Saint-Germain, Norman said he’s primarily invested in France, Brazil and Argentina this year.
“If I weren’t playing football as a sport, I’d be a soccer player,” Norman said.
With all that understood, Norman admitted that the only time he’s been really star struck has been meeting soccer players in person, and it’s made him appreciate Redskins fans even more.
“First guy I got star-struck was Zlatan Ibrahimović, when he was with PSG. I saw him when they came over to Bank of America Stadium,” Norman said. “I was like, ‘Dude you are the man, I’ll take a back seat to be around you right now.’ I kind of related to him in a way and I felt what fans feel when they’re around guys like ourselves in our sport. I take time now more so than I ever did to relate to the fans.”
Because the conference is called “Hashtag Sports,” the conversation shifted to social media. Norman relayed how on a recent trip to Miami with Antonio Brown, where the two did a beach workout together, hundreds of fans flocked to their location after Brown had posted on Instagram.
Not too much later, Norman posted where he was working out in Los Angeles and quickly found a pair of fans. The encounter was heartening, but an example of how things have changed for athletes looking to connect yet still wanting a private life.
“I posted where I was running,” Norman said. “It was this big old hill and I kid you not, a dad brought his kid to the place we were at, he had a jersey ready to sign and everything. I was like, ‘I gotta finish my workout first, I’ll get it. I ain’t going nowhere.’ Finished the workout, came back and signed, started to have a conversation, talked to him for about five minutes, and that just made his whole summer.”
I don’t recall Norman ever going into great detail about the horse farm his family owns in Greenwood, S.C. At least until this podcast. After trying to convince Blaney to ride a horse – “They’ve had horseback since the almost the beginning of time. America’s back was built on horses. You had to get on, you had to ride them, before we had cars, there was horses" – he described his family’s farm, which now holds 30 horses.
“Basically we sell them – we buy some and we sell some, and the ones we trade out they go to a nice place to where they’re already green, they’re already broken in,” Norman said. “So they go to a lovely family, they ride them, they have a good time with them, and then he we find other ones. We’ve got Quarter horses, Paso Finos, Paints, Steppers, Jumpers, you call it, you name it, we pretty much got it.”
For his foundation Starz 24's field day, Norman brings a couple horses down to a big park so that kids in the neighborhood get a chance to ride them.
“We train them ourselves, so you get a horse, he’s wild, he’s just really out of control, put him in a round pen for a week or two and then just work with them daily, just working them, trying to get them used to the bit, used to the saddle… Kids love it.”