Dez Bryant and Josh Norman seemed to find mutual respect going into their Week 2 matchup. That proved to be short-lived as Bryant and Norman went back at it on Thursday.
Let’s just say, they weren’t meeting up for pumpkin pie afterward.
Bryant ripped Norman, saying the Redskins cornerback should refund his $75 million contract signed in the off-season. Last year as a member of the Carolina Panthers, Norman made similar comments about Bryant, saying the Cowboys should get back the $70 million they paid him.
“Washington needs to get their money back from Josh Norman,” Bryant said after the Dallas Cowboys’ 31-26 victory.
“I didn’t make it personal. He made it personal,” Bryant said. “I was just going to come out and do my job, and that’s exactly what I did. He wanted to bump. He just made me attack him even more. I honestly feel like the guy is extremely soft. He’s all talk.”
Norman had a different view, and wasn’t pleased when Bryant approached him after the game. Norman said he was trying to congratulate Cowboys rookie quarterback Dak Prescott and apologize to cornerback Orlando Scandrick forsomething earlier in the game when Bryant “bumped” into him.
“I’m not a guy to see a challenge in front of my face and back down, that’s not me. That’s not what you’re going to get,” Norman said. “Just don’t stop someone after the game is over like that when they’re not even looking for you or even having a conversation with you. ... I don’t do trash and that was trashy on his behalf.”
Bryant and Norman got into it on the field. Bryant made a 13-yard catch on Norman early in the fourth quarter that put the Cowboys on the Redskins 6. A heated exchange followed but neither was penalized.
Bryant also had an animated gesture after a 10-yard catch on Norman for a first down late in the first half during a Cowboys’ TD drive. Bryant finished with five catches for 72 yards, and had no issues calling out Norman’s performance.
“That guy is soft, man,” Bryant said. “He is really soft. He’s supposed to be a lock-down corner, but you can’t even play man-to-man. He got frustrated. If you’re going to give fire, you’d better be able to take it.
“He was holding the whole night. How much is he getting? 70? 75? Get it back Washington. Get it back.”
The Bryant/Norman beef dates to last year’s Thanksgiving game when Norman made those same comments about Bryant’s contract. Bryant had two catches for 26 yards in that game, and Norman wasn’t happy that Bryant refused to trade jerseys afterward. The previous week, Bryant and Miami Dolphins cornerback Brent Grimes exchanged jerseys.
Bryant is known for his “passion” and fiery attitude on the field, but has matured to an extent.
If the postgame altercation took place earlier in his career, Bryant said: “I would have beat him up right there on the field.”
Instead, everything only escalated to heated exchanges on the field and trash talk afterward. That speaks volumes to Bryant’s growth.
“Obviously Norman is a good football player and I thought Dez embraced those challenges now and keeps his composure and he had some big catches for us at key times,” tight end Jason Witten said. “His route running and the way he does it is one of the best in the league, if not the best. But his ability to kind of do all the other things, shows a lot about who he is and the growth he’s shown as a player.
“People trying to get under his skin and he just won’t do it.”
Of course, the Cowboys defensive backs are used to Bryant talking smack on a daily basis and weren’t surprised to hear about Bryant’s comments.
“It’s the nature of the game. It’s a violent sport,” cornerback Brandon Carr said. “You have aggression. You’ll have a little swag to you. Dez is definitely a guy that talks the talk, but he also walks the walk. He’s an alpha male. He’s going to let you know how he’s beating you each week and he’s going to go out there and show the world that he’s the best on the field.”