- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 10, 2018

ASHBURN — After the Carolina Panthers rescinded Josh Norman’s franchise tag to make him a free agent in 2016, the cornerback received a call from DeAngelo Hall, who was trying to recruit him to the Redskins.

“He spoke to me and was like, ‘Come on JNo. Come over here, we’ve got everything set up,” Norman recalled.

So when Hall criticized his former teammate Tuesday — telling 106.7 The Fan that Norman was “in love with being a celebrity right now, and not necessarily being a football player” — Norman said he was shocked.

Norman pushed back against Hall’s claim Wednesday — saying that football has always been a priority.

The 30-year-old is coming off his worst game in a Redskins uniform, an outing in which he was briefly benched to start the second half against the New Orleans Saints.

“When it’s football time, I’m going to do football,” Norman said. “I’m going to be indulged in that. That is what we do. That’s who we are. We work at that. We didn’t get here by mistake. But outside of football? You’re going to tell me I’m just supposed to do football outside of football? Or can I do something else? … Guess what? I’ll get my check from Hollywood.

“And I’ll come back and I’ll play ball. That’s just what we do. … This is first and foremost. This is first love, man. It’s God, family and football. Nothing more, nothing less. And what I do outside of that is my extracurricular activities.”

Norman referenced a controversy from two years ago when the cornerback agreed to do pregame appearances for FOX’s NFL Sunday program while not telling the Redskins beforehand, pointing out that he was still able to do his job.

Norman has also gone on ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars” and worked on a television pilot with a production company during his bye week.

“I seen a little bit of what he said with Hollywood and I can say that’s true — I have went Hollywood,” Norman said. “I’ve been Hollywood. Ever since I came out my mama womb, I’ve been Hollywood. If they went right, I went left. That’s just how we did. When the lights came on, that’s just who we are.”

But Norman didn’t apologize for having off the field interests. He also addressed a recent comment from former Redskins general manager Charley Casserly which referred to Norman as the third-best corner on the team.

Norman laughed off Casserly’s suggestion, saying he was a target because of his salary. The Redskins signed Norman to a five-year, $75 million contract in 2016 — making him the highest-paid corner in the NFL, a title he still holds.

“If I am the third-best corner, guess what? I’m pretty sure those guys are going to be great,” Norman said. “Those other two [Fabian Moreau and Quinton Dunbar]. I’m pumping up for them, I’m excited for what they are and what they can do and their abilities. … Those guys, hey man, we’re going to be a great football team.

“We’re going to be a great secondary because I know what I can bring to the table. I know what those guys bring to the table. So I’m excited for what they are and who they are going to become.”

Coach Jay Gruden acted surprised when asked for his reaction to Hall’s remarks, but stood up for Norman. He said communication issues — not Norman’s celebrity status — was the reason the corner wasn’t “up to par.”

As for concerns about his play, Norman said the mistakes were “nipped in the bud” following the team’s loss to the Saints.

And despite the drama, Norman said he still “looks up” to Hall.

“Like I told you, I’m a hot button,” Norman said. “If you’re going to press it, you’re going to get something out of it.”

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