Notice a little back and forth between Josh Norman and Dez Bryant? You aren’t the only one!
The two have one of the closest things resembling a modern NFL rivalry that people can actually care about. It doesn’t happen year-round, but when we do get it, it’s fun to watch.
It started in 2015, when Norman suggested the Cowboys “need to get Dez’s 70 mil back”
While still a member of the Carolina Panthers in what was a breakout season, Norman held Bryant to just two catches for 26 yards on eight targets.
After the game, Norman talked his trash:
Josh Norman looks at media standing outside the locker room: "Hey, they need to get Dez's 70 mil back."— Michael Florek (@michaelflorek) November 27, 2015
In the offseason, Norman would end up signing with Washington, after Carolina rescinded the franchise tag from him, setting up meetings between the two at least twice a year.
It didn’t take long for things to reignite as NFC East foes.
Thanksgiving 2016 went from friendly banter to chippy
Fast forward a season, where Bryant and Norman provided enough entertainment for two Thanksgivings.
The two went back and forth, and eventually got into each other’s faces:
After a heated discussion with Bryant, Norman stepped over Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott. Referees also had to talk to both coaches to calm their respective players down. One official talked to Dallas’ Jason Garrett, while three talked to Washington’s Jay Gruden.
Bryant finished the game with five receptions for 72 yards — two of them coming against Norman for 19 yards — but things were just getting started between the two.
It continued off the field, with Bryant starting the trash talk
After the two went back and forth all game, things got spicier when microphones and cameras were placed in front of the two players.
Bryant started by throwing a jab back at Norman that Norman threw at him last season. “First off,” he told reporters, “Washington needs to get their money back from Josh Norman.
“I honestly feel like the guy is extremely soft,” Bryant added. “He’s a bunch of talk. If he was out and about, I wouldn’t dare on my life let him talk to me like that.
“Those words would never come out of his mouth. I promise. I promise it wouldn’t. We got after that ass and it was a hell of a win. It feels good.”
Norman threw a curveball that we didn’t expect
Norman told reporters that Bryant was looking for him at the end of the game. He alleged that Bryant told him, “Where I’m from, we unload the clip.”
“I played him three or four times now,” Norman said. “And those times, I don’t think he broke 30 yards, or had any significance of any kind in the game. Definitely didn’t have a touchdown.”
Bryant denied he ever said that
Upon hearing of Norman’s comments, Bryant went on Twitter to deny it:
Honestly I can't believe he's on tv lien.. I have kids bra it's not that serious https://t.co/rGuinINfXT— Dez Bryant (@DezBryant) November 25, 2016
Norman later backtracked on the claim, and defused the rivalry
“Nothing,” said Norman when asked how he felt about the postgame incident with Bryant. “It really wasn’t a situation. It was a game. We lost. They won. That was it.”
Bryant also took a cooler tone as well
"I wish I never did what I did, but that's OK because it's over with now," Bryant told SportsDay the Monday after the game. "I'm not even focused on that. I'm not even fixing to open up another can. It's all said and done. I wish I never done it. It happened. It's over with."
As Bryant had done in previous days, he relayed a similar message on Twitter:
I just finished watching my interview on espn... I shouldn't have even stooped down to that... we have something special here in Dallas— Dez Bryant (@DezBryant) November 25, 2016
"I have nothing against that guy; I'm pretty sure he's got nothing against me," Bryant said. "This thing is much more bigger than me. I'm here to do my job. That's what I'm going to continue to keep doing. I addressed that and that's so far behind me right now."
Norman takes playful shots at Bryant in TV commercial
In a Samsung Galaxy commercial, Norman is at a press conference, where he’s being questioned about a picture he posts to Twitter about Dez Bryant’s hands as butter.
He then posts a picture that says, “I'm Better Than Dez Bryant.”
The reporter in the commercial then repeats Norman’s words on social media, and says, “Oh Dez, where are you? You are choking on my dust.”
Bryant then had his own commercial roasting Norman
He posts a photo of Norman riding a snail, including one of him with Norman as a small blanket — because he can’t cover him.
Making money off the rivalry? Not bad.
Their first matchup in 2017 was quiet
Norman has been playing only on the left side of the field, and Bryant’s four catches for 39 yards all came against Quinton Dunbar.
However, we might see more Norman vs. Bryant this time around, with Bashaud Breeland playing well.
The rivalry between the two has been fierce at times, but it’s also had its moments where things have simmered down. On Thursday night, there’s no telling what it might bring.