The polarizing cornerback reflects on a rollercoaster 2016, explains the characters he embodies before games and why he still eats grits each day. *
*Dec. 7, Team hot tub room, 12:30 p.m. *
*Inova Sports Performance Center at Redskins Park, Loudoun County, Va. *
Do you prefer interviews to be done while you're in the hot tub?
[Laughing], I mean, you've got to get it done, so you've got to improvise.
With the holidays upon us, and with all of your family and friends, has this become a stressful time for you?
Um, no, the only stress is they're in Atlanta and I'm here.
So they don't expect too much from you this year?
It depends. I don't think that's always been the case. When I was in Carolina we had [holidays] there, so different for them this year.
How would you describe your 2016 season?
It's been solid, man. It's been a solid campaign for myself. For my team, we're still fighting. So, that's the biggest thing that I really think about. Individual stats are for those who deem themselves worthy of such, but it is what it is, I think that's what you measure yourself up to at the end of the year. But as a whole, as a collective group? We still haven't got to where we want to be, so we're still working on that.
You went to the Super Bowl, you moved cities, you moved teams. How would you describe your 2016 year as a whole personally?
I don't know. I haven't really sat down and truly thought about it. It's been a whirlwind. So many highs and then the deepest of the lows. I mean, jeez. So much stuff that happened that year, to where a book would tell a tale of it all. It's just crazy. So to even sit around and think about it, I haven't because I'm still working.
How did you get through those "deepest of lows?"**
How I always did. Control the controllables. I learned that. Control what you can control. Always having faith, faith in God. To know that He wouldn't put you in a situation to where he would know you wouldn't be successful in. He always had a ram and a bush for me, and I just followed his will for my life. Always been God, la familia and football. Nothing else was relevant to me. When I found that out, I just was determined and had that will to see and whatever I put my thoughts to, that's how I overcome all these thoughts right now.
Because you've been on so many headlines this year, I'm curious. Is there anything we don't know about you?
Oh yeah, there's a lot you guys don't know about me. And that's the thing. I show what I want you to see. The stuff I don't, I don't. I think those are what's cherished to me most, what I don't show, because you can't get all of somebody. Then you won't have nothing else to show or give. Some stuff you keep to yourself, you want to be secretive, within you, because that's your happiest of the happiest place, you know? And some of the other stuff is different. And we show it to the people that's out here in the world because that's what you want them to see. Anything else I'd rather [keep it to my] self, because that's personal.
*Do you feel like your privatelife has changed at all this year, as opposed to years past? *
Not basically. I'm pretty much the same. I'm simple. Yeah, in a sense where you meet somebody and you take it to another level, but I'm basic, man. I'm pretty simple. I'm a get what you see guy in my personal life. My brothers, my familia, it's my personal life, and they know me, and I think they know me the best. I really don't do much outside of ball.
You said something that struck me a couple weeks ago. You were talking about the difference in your persona from speaking to reporters to being on the field, and how it exposes such a different personality.
When do you think that kind of separation happened?
I don't know, I guess ever since high school, college, league. I mean, I don't conform. I'm the same. I don't conform to the surroundings that's around me or conform to be able to adapt to the surroundings that I'm in. If you go left, I go right. It's kind of how I've always been. I've just been able to adapt in the scenarios that I'm in, like the media, giving them a face that I feel like I represent highly of myself. That's who I am, I'm giving you who I am. On a football field, I'm somebody totally different. It's crazy to say, but it's that superhero mentality. Like, you go in, you're Bruce Wayne, when you're [in the] daytime. You're the bat at night. That's it. That's the [by] day by night thing.
Check out behind the scenes images from Cornerback, Josh Norman's 2016 Redskins Photo Shoot.
Is that why you like Batman so much?**
I mean, I just use that as an example. It could be anything like "Troy," Leonidas, anybody that has a profession. They're not going to be the same as they are during the day than they are in their profession. That's whatever it is. It doesn't matter, man. That's just the realization of how we are as human beings.
Last year you mentioned that before every game you would embody a movie character. Do you still do that?
I've done it a little bit this year, yeah. But it hasn't been like years past, because I'm still finding my way through things, working out the kinks, truly comfortable in a way that I can evolve some things.
What's the most interesting movie character you've embodied this season?
Ooh, that's a good one. I'd have to go back and think about it, man. We play so many games, I'd have to go back and be like, OK, I was "this" on that game, and I can remember it very vaguely.
What about the Browns game?
Yeah, the Browns game. I went into another zone there. I went into Dark Knight mode. Yeah, I was shutting it down mode, a whole 'nother different space because I went from first half being like, "Ok what's going on?" and then trying to change it up. Second half, straight stone cold face. Nothing was going to fly, like if you think about coming within an inch of this, I'm taking it. So I just completely went into a different character.
What's your favorite movie of all time?
It speaks everything of who I am and what I am to become. If I was back in those days, that's what I would be. So those days I treat as if that's who I am if I'm on the field. How King Leonidas is to his queen. How King Leonidas is to his troops, the command that he has for it in the disregard of complete life when he's on the battlefield. He's a destructor and you know it. He commands an allegiance or an alliance with him. It's unprecedented to see. It's unreal. He would die for anyone of his soldiers at any given moment. He went out like a G.
Do you remember seeing that movie in the theater?
Yeah, I do. I remember exactly. Just like as crystal clear as it was then as it is today. I was in a seat, almost in the very back, six rows from the very back. I was with my high school buddies. That "ohhh, ohhh," [mimicking sounds from the movie], it was crazy. Wow.
Do you think in an alternate reality, you would be an actor?
Your teacher did give you an "A" in your dramatic arts class.
She did. It came natural. When something comes natural and it's not hard for you, why not do it?
As someone who majored in dramatic arts, your manner of speaking is very different. I've never heard an athlete speak like you.
It's colorful, huh?
It is! Is that something you developed in that class?
I want you to see what I feel. I want you to see what I do. I want you to actually feel it, because everything in speech should have a feeling, touch and even taste to it that's like "wow." Something like a fine wine, because it should relate in a correspondent way of compare and contrast. That's how I feel it should. I want you to show it, I want you to feel that. The biggest misinterpretation of the year I believe was when the whole Dez Bryant thing happened with "the clip." Like, "Where I'm from, we unload the clip." I never said that* he* said it. *I *said it because where we're from, we unload, meaning, we leave everything out there, leave everything on the field. So I want you to feel that metaphor as, you know, we give it our all. Nothing is left in the chamber. Nothing is left, all the gas is out.
And you enjoy speaking in metaphors.
Exactly. I want you to relate. So when you're actually listening to it, listening to what I'm saying, it's "what's the message here?" Is he leaving a bread crumb, like the "National Treasure" series?
So when you speak about where you're from, do you think Greenwood, S.C., has changed since you grew up there?
Yeah it has.
In what ways?**
Some good, some bad, just because the poverty level is [up] there, buildings have not been there since I've been there. Certain areas where I used to go and play are not there anymore. But then you have hope.
How would describe riding your horse, Delta?
Because – your wind, your hair, it's real. Every turn. Every twist. You're getting that thrill of [gasps]. And, it's the thrill of it, but it ain't like you can steer a rollercoaster. You can steer him where you want him to go, but you're still getting that thrill of the wind blowing in your hair. A big hill coming up? Oh, we're about to take this!
It's a level of control again.
It's a level of control.
One of the things I interested in about your Player's Tribune article was when you described your childhood and your brothers stealing your food.
Yeah they took that to a whole 'nother level, the Player's Tribune. I'm mad at them about it.
Because some of that stuff was fugazzi. That wasn't all me. I just had to look at it like "Wow, really?" But whatever. But yeah, they used to take my food, they really did.
You mention though how you ate grits. When's the last time you've eaten grits?
Two hours ago.
Oh really? So that's part of your diet still?
That's every day. That won't ever change. They'll never get that out of me. My [future] wife will cook grits. It doesn't matter where she's from.
Is that just a southern thing?
It is. It what I grew up off of. That's life. This interview was edited