“I don't believe anything. I am,” Norman said. “When you are something, you don't believe it; you go out and do it. Sucks that I can't prove it right now.”
It was Norman’s trademark confidence despite the results. He was pressed into service Sunday by injuries, and he ended with an up-close view of wide receiver Greg Ward snaring a touchdown in the back of the end zone to push the Philadelphia Eagles ahead for good in a 37-27 win. Norman tried to knock the ball away from Ward but couldn’t, and the Redskins (3-11) watched a chance to down an NFC East rival slip away. It’s unclear whether Ward was Norman’s assignment on the play.
“You saw what happened,” Norman said when asked to explain the play. He added, “I’m not going to put nobody under the bus.”
The Redskins sat Norman during their win against the Detroit Lions in late November, his 40 tackles, one interception and one forced fumble far from justifying his position as the NFL’s second-highest-paid cornerback. He has rarely seen the field since, aside from special teams. He still has one year left on the five-year, $75 million deal that was supposed to turn him into a star in Washington and, because of it, he didn’t want to offer thoughts on what could be next.
“I’m still under contract for a year, so we’ll see what happens,” he said. “Someone higher deals the cards. I just have to play the hand.”
The Redskins are committed to the benching. On Sunday, they bypassed Norman for others, including one cornerback who until this week was on the physically unable to perform list (Danny Johnson) and one cut earlier this year by the Houston Texans for poor performance (Aaron Colvin). Norman admitted it has been difficult for him to watch the team from the bench — particularly when it won two games — but the 32-year-old intimated he didn’t hold it against the team because, during a lost season, it wanted to evaluate other players.
The former all-pro repeatedly called himself “blessed” and “fortunate” to be in his situation, even if he never plays another snap for the team, because he’s had a great career. He took the benching well because he’s “a good sport.” Norman believes he’ll rebound stronger. A key part of his process now is focusing on being a good teammate and doing what coaches ask.
“I’m not going to buck the system,” he said. “I know I could, but I choose not to because it’s grace."
The relentless optimism Norman projected never dimmed. He continued calling this situation an “honor” and credited God for giving him another struggle to endure so he would come out stronger. He was looking forward to seeing the field again, he said — somehow, some way.
“It ain’t no gray skies when I look out,” he said. “Only thing is sunny.”
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