There's something about Josh Norman and NFC East wide receivers. One year after Norman and Odell Beckham Jr. got into one of the ugliest NFL skirmishes this side of Vontaze Burfict, Norman and Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant spent 60 minutes of Thanksgiving football jawing in each other's faces, knocking helmets, poking each other like pre-schoolers, shouting profanity and somehow avoiding multiple personal fouls that more flag-happy officiating crews would have called happily. Then, after the Cowboys' victory, it didn't take long for Bryant to start jawing in a safer, Norman-free environment:
Dez with a return volley to Norman. "Better tell Washington to get their money back." pic.twitter.com/UUPvvEa9C6— Mike Doocy (@MikeDoocyFox4) November 25, 2016
That was in direct response to Norman saying last year that the Cowboys need "to get Dez' 70 mil back." Bryant didn't stop with that financial advising though, continuing his evaluation of Norman: " I think he's extremely soft. All talk. He was holding the whole night. You supposed to be a lockdown corner, and you can't even play man. [...] He was scared."
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I don't know; Bryant couldn't keep Norman's name out of his mouth. You tell me who's scared?
How did all the extracurriculars start? Depends on who you ask.
Consider the source and all but Bryant did say after the game that if Norman and he had been beefing on the field like that a couple of years ago he "would've beat him up." All told, with the pushing, shoving, screaming and shots through media, Bryant could be looking at a multiple-game suspension, especially if that "unload the clip" comment made it onto video. As it is though, Norman might be facing some sort of sanction given his colorful on-field history.
The game proceeded calmly for about 50 minutes, with Norman covering Bryant on about half the plays. Only five targets went Bryant's way and he caught three for 32 yards, hardly a dominant, and barely adequate performance. At least as the stats see it, Norman got the best of Bryant. However, on what ended up being the biggest play of the game, Bryant beat Norman on a third-down play late in the game with the Redskins on the verge of getting the ball back down one score.
And that started the fireworks. Norman was frustrated after the play and Bryant couldn't wait to crow about it. That's when they got in each other's faces and started the conflict that spilled over into the postgame. Whatever it is that Bryant said, Norman got backed up by Redskins defensive coordinator Joe Barry.
Joe Barry to Dez Bryant after he got into a shoving match with Josh Norman post game: "Have some class and learn how to [expletive] win."— Homer McFanboy (@HomerMcFanboy) November 25, 2016
You may be surprised that Bryant didn't take the message to heart.
Dez Bryant postgame on Josh Norman pic.twitter.com/Zjkgo2hBop— Jane Slater (@SlaterNFL) November 25, 2016
In case no one heard those comments, Bryant went on Twitter and specifically showed how he's going to expose his counterpart:
All through the week I will post film how Norman got exposed... https://t.co/WKWE9IdQYr— Dez Bryant (@DezBryant) November 25, 2016
He also kept taking shots and making threats, surely pleasing the front offices in Dallas and Park Avenue.
@J_No24 don't lie on me.. but I will whoop yo ass boy straight up— Dez Bryant (@DezBryant) November 25, 2016
Though Dez is hardly a sympathetic figure, it was Norman, not the Cowboys WR, who escalated the beef after that one beat. Though Norman may have had the upper hand for the other 59 minutes, the fact remains that the huge screens at Jerry World read Cowboys 31, Redskins 26.
"Scoreboard" would have been a more subtle burn from Dez, but subtlety isn't exactly a strong suit for two of the three mouthiest players in the NFL. (Norman still has another game with Beckham. All I want for Christmas is for NFL Films to mic them both up.) Bryant seemingly tried to apologize later in the night, but like a certain politician whose Twitter account tends to get him in more trouble than not, the Cowboys WR seemed eager to do the same.
I'm not disrespectful to players in league ..I love this game but Norman takes it past football.. if you going spit fire be able to take it— Dez Bryant (@DezBryant) November 25, 2016
Well, no, you are disrespectful to players in the league as Norman is, indeed, a player in the league. And taking it past football? That's what trash talk is all about! Michael Jordan wasn't going up to Reggie Miller and saying that his crossover was inadequate. Come on, Dez. For someone who throws sideline tantrums so much it makes T.O. blush, that's awfully rich.
"If that boosts his ego, or if he needs it to fuel whatever kind of things he got in his head, then so be it," Norma said. "But I've played the guy three times already, and my numbers speak for themselves."
The best news from the whole affair: the Cowboys-Redskins rivalry, which has been dormant for years except for the occasional flare-up is back with a vengeance (with the off chance that the teams meet in the divisional playoffs - which would be just their third playoff meeting in history). I think we all can be thankful for that.