Josh Norman had seen enough. The Washington Redskins cornerback has kept up with the devastation in Puerto Rico following Hurricane Maria, and he felt there was a lack of response by the government to assist the U.S. territory. So he decided to act by pledging on Twitter on Saturday to donate $100,000 to hurricane relief efforts.
“It’s truly bigger than football and everything else,” Norman said in a phone interview Saturday night. “This is not my job. This is my personal life. I don’t care what other people may think or say, like, ‘Just play football.’ No. You go to work, and you do what you want to do. After work, it’s no longer your job. So, for me, I look at it as I’m on this Earth to help people and help them be the best that they can be. I have the means to do so. I’m going to do that.”
Norman, 29, said he wants to get in contact with Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló and San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz so that the money can directly help those in need.
Along with the donation, Norman intends to start an online fundraising campaign. He called on others to give what they can.
“It’s just something that I feel is in me to be able to do, because I can do,” Norman said. “If you sit back idle while you can do something, that is wrong. You’re showing yourself. If you don’t stand for anything in this life, you will fall. If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything. For me, I’m standing for something I believe in. And this is what I believe in.”
Norman said he wanted to help Puerto Rico after watching what he felt was a lack of action from President Trump, who is at his golf resort in Bedminster, N.J. Trump tweeted his intentions to visit the island Tuesday.
“If someone is a leader, and someone needs help within your country, it don’t matter what you [are] doing, man,” Norman said. “You should stop in that moment and get over there then. Instead, you want to go on a Tuesday? What’s today? Saturday, Sunday, Monday. What’s wrong with all the other days? Why you got to go on a Tuesday? Why don’t you go now if they need you now? The priorities of the person in office right now is … whatever. Whatever.”
Norman said Trump’s response bothered him enough to take action. He said it has been “ridiculously hard” dealing with how Trump has run the country. Following this past Sunday night’s game against the Oakland Raiders, Norman criticized Trump for calling on NFL owners to fire players who kneel during the national anthem.
Norman has done charitable work in the past with children in the Washington area and in his home town, Greenwood, S.C., through his foundation, Starz24. But he said Trump has stirred in him an even greater philanthropic desire.
“What [Trump] did is that he sparked something in me that was there, and I knew it was going to come out but didn’t want to come out now, but he actually made that come out,” Norman said. “And now, I’m all for helping people no matter what. That’s what I believe I’m on the Earth to do. He sped along that process.
“He just pretty much, oh my gosh, he put it on a whole other level to where my platform is about to just transform into something else because I just know that it’s bigger than why I’m here on this Earth. It’s to do something bigger. Maybe this is my purpose in life and why I’m here, to do what I’m doing now, because if you have the means to do something, do it.”
A minute before Norman tweeted about his contribution, Trump himself tweeted how it’s “very important” that NFL players stand for the anthem Sunday, with 14 games scheduled. “Respect our Flag and our Country!” Trump said.
“In lieu of what’s going on, he still continues to attack us,” Norman said. “When he hits us low, we’re going to go high. The main problem is others, and worrying about other people, and doing a job to help others. It’s not so much worrying about the meticulous small things that is not even doing anything to the country. Helping others. I mean, Puerto Rico is a part of us. Isn’t that right? So why aren’t you helping them? There’s 3.4 million people over there. Every day, every moment, someone is dying. You mean to tell me we can’t get aid over there? We were so quick to jump to Houston. We were so quick to jump to Miami and everything else, which is good for us as the United States, but we can’t jump over to them and help them out that quickly, and they’re a part of us?
“Let’s look at the big picture. This is just smoke and mirrors with us in the NFL. He’s trying to get his approval rating, or whatever the case may be, up. What the real problem is [is] Puerto Rico, the [U.S.] Virgin Islands that just got hit by these natural disasters.”
Norman said his main priority is to help those affected in Puerto Rico, but he also wishes to assist others impacted by recent natural disasters. Norman, who wore a Mexico men’s national soccer team jersey in the locker room after the Raiders game, mentioned a passion to contribute to aiding Mexico City, where 360 people were killed following a 7.1 magnitude earthquake last week, along with those affected by recent hurricanes in the U.S. Virgin Islands, Houston and Florida.
“What [Trump’s] done is he’s brought light to a situation,” Norman said. “So now, I’m using that light for something good. Not evil, something good. I’m not about to go back and forth and have [a] squabble match with a guy who is incompetent. I’m going to actually use my ability for something that’s good, something that’s righteous. If you have it, then do it.
“I don’t look at trying to get anything back from this. Why? I didn’t start this, but I’m sure going to finish it. And I’m sure going to continue to keep going through with what I have to go through with to get where He wants me to be and help other people out in their lives. It’s bigger than me, man. It’s bigger than everybody else. It’s bigger than the president and whomever the case may be in that situation. It’s bigger than them. If you can help someone else when they’re in their need, and you have the means to do it, and you don’t do it, shame on you. Shame on you. I can’t just turn my head away. I got to go with what I believe in, what I feel is right. And I’m going to do that.”