- - Wednesday, August 10, 2016


Here’s something to do the next time you’re at work and find yourself … um … unfocused.

Create a Google search for “distractions” and pro sports. You’ll be amazed how often the terms are linked, like you can’t have one without the other.

Mets first baseman James Loney comes up in a story among the first few hits, followed by an article on Auburn defensive lineman Carl Lawson (proving that the NCAA’s amateurism can’t fool the algorithm).

Bill Belichick, Vijay Singh, Ricky Rubio and Premier League star Jamie Vardy all make appearances on the first page. The Los Angeles Clippers, LeBron James and the NHL expanding to Las Vegas show up on the second page (along with a story on Russia’s men’s gymnastics team, another example of truth in computer science).

You don’t have to be an athlete to experience a wandering mind, whether it strays to romances and finances, or random daydreams and real-life issues. Drifting is natural and not necessarily a bad thing. Research on human productivity suggests that sustained work bursts of about 45 minutes, followed by an intentional downshift for about 15 minutes, leads to maximum efficiency.

But we put athletes in a separate class, as if they’re incapable of simultaneously carrying out a game plan and contemplating dinner plans. Or performing their assignment in the heat of the action while mulling postgame analysis under the glare of TV lights.

SEE ALSO: Entering his 11th season, Kedric Golston still guides Redskins on and off the field

Wide receiver Brandon Marshall played for the Chicago Bears two years ago when he created a stir by joining Showtime’s “Inside the NFL” as a studio analyst. He flew to New York for the show on Tuesdays – his day off – and spent the rest of the week with his teammates.

Now with the Jets (which, technically, makes his commute easier), Marshall became the first active player with a regular side gig on national TV.

Critics questioned his dedication to football. They wondered about his allegiance to the team. They complained about him perpetuating the antiquated notion of “free time.”

I can only imagine what they’ll say about Josh Norman.

Washington’s prized free-agent acquisition will be a regular contributor for Fox this season, making a minimum of 10 appearances that potentially could include … brace yourself … a pregame hit on a game day! He actually might say something before plays. What’s the world coming to?

“That’s not going to be a problem at all,” Norman told Sports Illustrated. On the job in general, he said: “It’s not at all going to be a distraction. If you keep your focus on you and not anybody else, you’re going to be fine.

“I’m going to be me on Sunday.”

Everyone else can be apoplectic.

Norman already talks a good game and plays one, too. Just because he’ll be mic’d up, and perhaps wearing a bit of makeup, doesn’t mean his performance will suffer. His banter with Terry Bradshaw and Michael Strahan shouldn’t affect his coverage of Odell Beckham Jr. and Dez Bryant.

Besides, he might not appear live on game days; pregame hits are desirable but not guaranteed. Fox won’t push if they throw Norman off.

“Our No. 1 priority in this relationship is to make sure we do not get in the way of anything on the field,” Fox Sports executive John Entz told SI. “This is completely secondary. If there is ever a time where he feels this is something that gets in the way of his focus, then we completely understand that and we will respect that. If he ever came to us and said, ‘I need a break,’ that’s something we would be comfortable allowing.”

Norman’s TV work shouldn’t be an issue. In addition to possible live shots, he’s expected to appear in pre-taped segments from his home and maybe the practice facility. The only time he’s expected to appear in studio is during the bye week.

Marshall was nominated for two sports Emmys last year, but moonlighting as a talking head nearly destroyed his football career. He only caught 109 passes (fifth in the NFL) for a measly 1,502 yards (fourth). His 14 touchdown catches tied for the league lead, but the Jets missed the playoffs at 10-6, clearly thrown off by his broadcasting.

Norman has too much pride to let his game fall while he tries his hand at TV. He’s already under an enormous amount of pressure from the $75 million contract, the upcoming rematches against Beckham and the public squabbles with every critic on air and Twitter.

Only certain stars have the ability to talk trash as well as they make opponents resemble garbage. Norman does both and we can’t determine which he relishes more. Putting cameras on him just increases the fun, not the stress.

TV is likely to be more addition than distraction.

“It worked out to where I can do that and play at the same time,” Norman told reporters Monday. “It won’t be too much of a burden on me or take away from my number one job. It’s just communicating and spitting out sports to people who love to watch it.”

The rest of the time, he’ll focus on wideouts across the line of scrimmage.

No problem.

Now get back to whatever you should be doing.

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