Redskins cornerback Josh Norman stood by his locker on Wednesday, in front of a throng of reporters, and explained how he's handled the last couple days of criticism – towards him and the team's defensive unit.
"I came in, took a shower, came here, re-saw everything," Norman said. "Got a little stretch and stuff like that, got worked on the hammy, then went home. I chopped some wood, cleaned off my property a little bit, and then I started looking at tape and I started getting excited."
It was particularly cheery perspective during a week in which Norman's play, then his personality, came under extreme scrutiny. A blown assignment on his side of the field during the team's loss to the Saints added kindling to the narrative that he's regressed as a player, or more specifically, that he's now the team's third best cornerback. Questions about his focus – that he's more interested in celebrity than football – then piled on.
Norman said he and the secondary nipped those blown assignments in the bud on Wednesday, taking ownership for the lack of communication and busted coverages. "That's something I've got to take ownership of and get better as my unit go out there on the field because they look at us to perform and prepare in the way we're supposed to as pros and we've got to do that," Norman said.
Then he acknowledged the extra noise that festered after the game – his spat with wide receiver Michael Thomas, outside pundits, including a former teammate, challenging his work ethic and interest.
"I'm a target, man. I am, I'm a hot button, you press it you're gonna get a ring," Norman said. "Trust me, it don't come with what I've done, what I've accomplished, the number that you get, and we've been hefty with the number. It comes with the territory of where we're at, you know what I'm saying?"
Norman took the high road when asked about where he stands among his teammates, using the opportunity to pump up his fellow cornerbacks.
"I'm excited for what they are and what they can do and their abilities," Norman said. "Because guess what, we're gonna need that and if I'm slacking and if I'm that way then guess what, those guys, hey man we're going to be a great football team, we're going to be a great secondary because I know what I can bring to the table, I know what those guys bring to the table so I'm excited for what they are and who they are going to become."
Check out photos of the Washington Redskins during their regular season Week 5 game against the New Orleans Saints.
Over the offseason, Norman competed in ABC's "Dancing With The Stars" for four consecutive weeks. He made continual cross-country trips from Dulles to Los Angeles and back, an exhausting schedule, making sure he didn't miss an OTA practice.
During the Redskins' bye week, in which players are required to take several days off, he joined the NFL on FOX pregame studio show to offer his insights on the league, and earlier this week, in a Yahoo interview, he promoted a new television series he'll be working on in the offseason. All of this may have prompted former Redskins defensive back DeAngelo Hall to say that he believes Norman might be too focused on being a celebrity and not being a football player.
Norman smiled when the commentary was brought up again.
"I can say that's true, I have went Hollywood, I've been Hollywood," Norman said. "Ever since I came out my mama's womb, I've been Hollywood. Everybody went right, I went left, that's how we did. When the lights came on it's just who we are."
Later, Norman excused Hall's comments as a reaction to being on camera. He knows Hall well, knows his kids, looked up to him, flew on the private jet with him when he was first signed in Washington. He knows that, like Hall, other opportunities await him once his football career is finished.
"You gonna tell me I'm supposed to do football outside of football? Or can I do something else? I don't know," Norman said. "I mean I don't know if I'm supposed to live my life with a football helmet on when I retire from football, see where I'm going?
"So if you call that Hollywood so be it, guess what I'll get my check from Hollywood," he added. "And I'll come back and I'll play ball because that's what we do, that's just what we do. I mean I look at those things and I have to take consideration man what's important to me, and this is first and foremost this is first love, man. God, family and football nothing more and nothing less, and anything I do outside of that is my extra-curricular activities."
This week is already fueled with another storyline – Norman is playing against his former team, the Carolina Panthers. It's a matchup that has lost a little steam since his departure two years ago. The Redskins have not fared well against the Panthers, either, losing their last five matchups, the most recent in December 2016, as the Redskins missed an opportunity to reach the playoffs.
It will be a chance for Norman to fight back with his actions on the field, and help bounce this team back.
"Playing those guys, I mean obviously I love them, old friends they come into town and I get to see them and go at each other," Norman said. "They know how I am, trust me and I know how they are so it's going to be quite an exciting time, I'm looking forward to them.
"They've been really hot so we've got to prepare as such and we are, we really are," he added. "You know what those guys look like, it's going to be fun."