Josh Norman takes on the personas of his favorite movie characters to take on opposing receivers.
Ever wonder what goes on inside Josh Norman’s head? With some Carolina Panthers it is easy to imagine what is going on upstairs. Cam Newton will usually tell you even if it is something you rather not have known. So you did not see that Saints linebacker and that’s why you ambled into the end zone until you didn’t?
Luke Kuechly you would imagine some set of gears processing, or have one of those internal monologues from the Sherlock Holmes movies with Robert Downey Jr. Okay, Witten in slot. Chance of being target: 78.3 %. Strategy: pull off coverage to prevent catch. Chance of pick: Good enough. Then he goes and intercepts the ball.
But Norman? The Panthers corner has some country in him. Enjoys talking horse with Jared Allen. Yet besides the Coastal Carolina angle, Norman’s actual thoughts can only be guessed at. Well that was until Kevin Clark of the Wall Street Journal reported that Norman does have a quirk. He assumes personas from his favorite movies when he plays certain teams.
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Norman tries to find someone to counterbalance whatever team or receiver he is going up against. Usually they end up being action movie heroes. Norman never casts himself as the villain, notably. Norman is always Maximus from Gladiator, or Batman, or Achilles from the movie version of Troy.
When the Carolina Panthers played Detroit, Norman channeled a personal favorite. Going up against Megatron, Norman tried to channel Optimus Prime on the field. While his personas require him to learn certain lines or poses, I wonder if he used the ‘one shall stand, one shall fall” line with Calvin Johnson. It also would have been fun if he used the ‘I thought you were made of sterner stuff’ line.
Whatever Norman has been doing, it has been working throughout this season. Teams have largely stopped throwing at Norman’s direction. They also have been lining up their better receivers in the slot to avoid Norman, who stays on the boundary. He has been one of the most consistent performers on the defense this year.
You can see Norman and the Panthers take on the Falcons this Sunday.