It's the third bitter breakup in three years involving Dave Gettleman, and like Steve Smith and DeAngelo Williams before, tales of the shattered relationship are mired in finger pointing, betrayal, and ill-will.
After the stunning recension of the franchise tag, Josh Norman quickly signed a deal of a lifetime with the Washington Redskins. Norman, who liked to talk when he was a Panther, was asked immediately about the circumstances of his release from Carolina. Norman's response wasn't that of the typical disgruntled player who emerged unsatisfied from the negotiating table. He didn't appear to be insulted . In fact, when he received the news he was conciliatory, immediately reaching out to Jerry Richardson for clarification and even offering to sign the tender to Dave Gettleman. The wheels were already in motion, however.
Norman was more than shocked, he was hurt. He recently opened up about the moment in an interview with MMQB, stating "I envisioned being that guy who lived his whole life in the Carolinas, and could positively impact that area.”
The 75 million dollar contract and hobnobbing with DC politicians has begun to dull the shock, but not the pain. The way things ended with Carolina are still on his mind. Like those who were dumped before him, Dave Gettleman isn't on his Christmas card list either. Gettleman, Norman remarked, "has no ties to me." “He didn’t bring me in. I had been there five years, busting my tail, giving it everything I had. I was blue-collar to the core," Norman defended.
Norman had been in Carolina for five years, and while he was working his tail off, he also wore heavily on the coaching staff's nerves in his first few seasons. He was benched in 2013 for not doing things Sean McDermott's way. Norman admitted he wanted to do it his way and would often go rogue to show he could.
It wasn't until mid-way through 2014 that Norman established himself as a starter. He began a dominant run that coincided with an equally dominant run by Carolina, winning 23 of their next 24 regular season games. Norman looked great and quarterbacks found out quickly to avoid him as much as possible.
Critics claimed that Norman was a system guy. He didn't shut down guys man-to-man on the island because Carolina hadn't asked him to. His value, they claimed, was inflated.
Now feeling the power emanating from Capitol Hill, Norman hasn't been entirely forgiving of his forced resignation in Carolina. The team which hangs it hat on a special "family-like" environment, Norman questioned, "they talk so much about this being a family deal—well, dang, you could have at least let me know. You want to be a family, but honestly, is this a family way of doing things?"
In Washington, Norman believes he has found something more than just a payday. He found “The freedom, the power, the glory.” “I can have it all here,” he boasted.
His future, Norman believes, now has a higher ceiling. In Carolina, Norman described, “it was black and white and some gray. Here everything is gray—it’s more free. I can not just be in a scheme, but be a football player. I have a little more freedom. The shackles have been broken off, and man, I’m going to show them something they’ve never seen before.”
What really else is there for Norman to say at this point? He's embraced the underdog persona with a braggadocious confidence, and it has paid off. Why wouldn't he want to keep that mentality? Gettleman had made a calculating decision about resource allocation, and those resources look to be invested in Kawann Short. He wasn't worth it in Gettleman's eyes, and that hurts still.
t's why it's still on his mind, and it's why even the most expensive of wines haven't been able to wash away the sour taste.
By the Professor, aka Tony Dunn