WSJ- Josh Norman takes the field pretending to be a different Hollywood action figure in every game. “It comes down to what movie I’m watching that week and the night before,” Norman said.
Norman is the NFL’s most dedicated method actor. Every Sunday, he inhabits a different role. His task is never to break character.
“When I do this, my job is to go out there and be that guy. With Maximus, it’s to go out there and win the crowd, win the day. That’s what he did.”
While Norman still spends hours studying game film each week, he also sets aside time in his schedule to review a range of Hollywood movies as he figures out which character he’ll portray on Sunday. Norman doesn’t just watch a movie. He’ll typically listen to the soundtrack and memorize lines, poses and memorable sequences to re-enact between plays.
To help him get into character, Norman also keeps a collection of trinkets, including a Batman figurine and a Transformers toy, which he picked up before facing the Detroit Lions last season. Norman decided to channel Optimus Prime, the hero of the “Transformers” movies, since he was defending Detroit’s Calvin Johnson, nicknamed Megatron, the main villain in the series.
He decided to embody the Dark Knight before a night game against the Indianapolis Colts after comparing a rainy Charlotte night to Gotham City. Norman said he had to “save a couple of people.”
Tampa Bay star receiver Mike Evans puts Norman in rare company: He says Norman is the most fun defensive back he’s gone against, along with Cincinnati’s Adam Jones. “He talks a lot of s---,” Evans said. “I can’t put into words what he says, it just brings more competitive edge to a game.”
I have got to be honest, this is pretty awesome. I HATE the Carolina Panthers, and it's against all that I stand for to praise one of their players, but Josh Norman is an absolute stud. Probably been the best and most consistent cornerback in the league thus far this season, and it's cool to see a player that talented have some fun with his job. Make no mistake, however, that this is only being embraced because Josh Norman is debatably the best player on an undefeated team. There is not a doubt in my mind that if the Panthers were struggling, or if Norman was giving up a big play every week, that every single person in Carolina would be blasting him for this. That's not a statement of jealousy, it's just a fact. Fans, and coaches for that matter, are much more receptive to silly, fun narratives when their team is winning.
Can you imagine if Josh Norman got burnt on a double move and came back to the bench talking like Bane? Ron Rivera would bitchslap his ass back to Gotham. How fast would Luke Kuechly turn Batman into Christian Bale if his team couldn't stop anyone on third down? It undoubtedly would not be Sparta if the Panthers were 4-7 and on the outside looking in at a playoff spot. If their secondary was getting torched for 350 yards every week then I'm pretty sure the Carolina defensive coordinator would have hidden Norman's DVD collection weeks ago. Then it would be less 'Game Of Thrones', more tape of game. You can method act all you want when literally every method you have used on the field has been successful. When you are outstanding in coverage you are allowed to have trinkets and figurines. When you stink everyone just assumes their cornerback plays with dolls. You can be Maximus, or Optimus Prime, or Gladiator all you want if your play on the field is nothing short of heroic. Anything less and you become the annoying friend, who puts far too much time into his immitations, that everyone secretly hates being around. No one wants to watch Frank Caliendo perform after a loss. I'm not trying to play 'Whose Line Is It Anyway?' down 10 in the 4th quarter. I guess what I am trying to say is that I hate that I love this move, because it means the Panthers are good, and quite frankly, fuck the Panthers.