Josh Norman used to line up across from Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones twice a year during his time with the Carolina Panthers. But in his first season with Washington, Norman didn’t face Jones, although he would’ve liked to.
Norman told Tyler Dunne of Bleacher Report that he misses the “ultimate battle” that he would get when matching up with Jones. And Norman had no shortages of analogies to describe what it’s like to try to lock down the four-time Pro Bowl receiver.
"The sweet sensation of death without dying," Norman told Dunne. "You're trapped in time. A split second feels like a lifetime in the moment of a play. So, for me, it was like I was trapped in that butterfly effect. People say that they go through this when they know they're about to have an accident. They think about everything within that moment. That is where we were at. We were in that moment for what seemed like the entire game.
"It's like watching 300. The sweetest thing to them in the ultimate battle is a sweet death. The sweetest thing to me in an ultimate battle is a Julio Jones. He pushes our level to a point where it's like being in Super Saiyan range. You elevate from Super Saiyan 3 to Super Saiyan 4. You know what I'm saying? Like a Goku or something."
Norman was a communication and dramatic arts major at Coastal Carolina University, and he certainly has a propensity for being dramatic. In 2015, Norman told the Wall Street Journal that he takes the field as a different action movie character each week, and said he channeled King Leonidas from 300 for a matchup against Dez Bryant of the Dallas Cowboys.
But it’s hard to call his Dragonball Z references about Jones an exaggeration given the production the receiver has had in his meetings against Norman. In their last duel, Jones finished with nine receptions for 178 yards as the Falcons ended the Panthers’ undefeated season, although the receiver’s 70-yard touchdown in the game wasn’t Norman’s fault.
Jones is about to play in his first Super Bowl and has led the NFL in receiving yards per game in back-to-back seasons. So Norman isn’t alone in struggling to slow down arguably the NFL’s best receiver.
Now in the NFC East, Norman’s new biggest adversary is Odell Beckham Jr. who hasn’t always garnered respect from the cornerback. After a contentious matchup in Dec. 2015, the two had a war of words in the offseason.
“S—t, when I'm going against an Odell Beckham, hell, I'm just trying to stay alive and not have this guy do some crazy s—t,” Norman told Dunne. “I'm looking over my shoulder like, 'What the f—k are you doing?’”
But Norman never had those problems with Jones. The two just elevated to Super Saiyan range and the cornerback misses it.