Dez Bryant, wide receiver for the Dallas Cowboys, and Josh Norman, cornerback of the Washington Redskins, are two of the NFL’s premier players. Both are highly respected and are major contributors to their teams’ success. But their importance to their team is only as good as their temperament. Bryant and Norman got into a heated exchange at the end of their Thanksgiving match-up on Thursday night, in which the Redskins fell to the Cowboys 31-26.
Afterward, Bryant mentioned to the media that the Redskins have blown the investment on Norman.
Norman wasn’t slow to add his words after the game, either.
Norman and Bryant are division rivals in the NFC East, so there will hopefully be more match-ups between the two players for years to come. What will make the potential rivalry long-lasting, though, is clean but competitive play. New York Jets wide receiver Brandon Marshall was once known for intertwining his play with his mouth. But as Marshall got older, he’s enjoyed the route of playing football with virtue. Speaking with NJ.com, Marshall explains where the two talented football players went wrong on Thursday night.
“In between the lines, they played it clean, and it was good football,” Marshall said Friday. “After the game, I wish they didn’t do that.”
Marshall attempts to keep things in perspective, understanding the demands of being an NFL player. But he still encourages Bryant and Norman to do their best to turn their on-the-field mentalities off once they leave the gridiron.
This is a very volatile game,” Marshall said. “We’re asked to be warriors within that 60 minutes. That comes with a different type of psyche, a different type of intensity that doesn’t work in marriage, parenting, business. It doesn’t work off the field.”
“You have to be able to channel that and turn that switch on when you need it. For some guys, it’s easy. For some guys, it takes some work,” he continued.
While things may get better for Bryant and Norman over time, the history between the two may not make things get better very quickly.
“The root of the Bryant-Norman drama seems to stem from last year, when Norman bragged about shutting Bryant down during the Panthers-Cowboys game. When Bryant managed just five catches for 71 yards on Thanksgiving, it all boiled over.
“Norman told the media the ‘numbers speak for themselves,’ while Bryant took to Twitter and claimed he would share photos and videos throughout the week of all the times he ‘exposed’ Norman.”
But Marshall did understand why Bryant believed that he did do enough damage toward Norman last season.
“What Dez is trying to say is, although he may not have gone for 100 or 200 yards and a couple of touchdowns, the damage was done when you look mano a mano,” Marshall said. “The receiver position is the only position on the field that relies on another man.”
Josh Norman reaches for interception. [Image By Patrick Smith/Getty Images]
Bryant and Norman may not face each other in the regular season, but if the Redskins win enough games to close the season out, it’s possible the two players could face off in the playoffs with their respective teams. But whether they play in the playoffs or next season, fans will want to see Norman and Bryant play a fierce, clean, but highly competitive game. Both players are worth a combined $155 million to their teams, so a suspension or an injury due to a fight between Bryant and Norman would obviously do more harm than good. But what we do know is Bryant and Norman will continue to be the emotional leaders for their respective teams. Whether they channel that energy in the right way or the wrong way is completely up to them.
[Featured Image by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images]