Josh Norman is amazed by the scrutiny of his scuffle with Cam Newton

ByDavid Newton ESPN logo
Wednesday, August 12, 2015

SPARTANBURG, S.C. -- Carolina Panthers cornerback Josh Norman is amazed his Monday-morning scuffle with quarterback Cam Newton continues to draw attention.

He said the issue was over between them as soon as they ran into each other and talked after practice.

"It's really out of hand, to the point where you continue to hear about it," Norman said on Wednesday, the first time he's publicly addressed the incident. "It's practice, man.

"We're teammates. We're brothers. ... We watched a movie [last night]. We hung out. I don't know what else to say about it other than he's our quarterback. He's the franchise quarterback of the Carolina Panthers, and I'm glad to be on his team."

The scuffle broke out as Newton tried to tackle Norman near the sideline while the fourth-year defensive back returned an interception. When Norman stiff-armed Newton in the helmet, Newton got into Norman's face.

Both players wound up at the bottom of a pile as teammates tried to separate them.

To critics who have said a defender should never hit his own quarterback in practice -- no matter the situation -- Norman said, "I'm not them."

And Norman pointed out that Newton, 6-foot-5 and 245 pounds, isn't any other quarterback. He recalled Newton's chasing down Antonio Cromartie in a January playoff game after the Arizona cornerback intercepted a pass.

Newton pushed Cromartie out of bounds inside the 15-yard line to prevent a go-ahead touchdown.

"Laid him out," Norman said. "He gave it to him. That's what you want in a quarterback. That's what you want in a leader."

Norman said he wasn't trying to incite a fight when he stiff-armed Newton.

"I was running the ball," he said. "I was trying to score. He's fun to play with. He comes and tries to tackle us all the time. I [saw] him. I was just toying around. That's Cam. He's going to be that guy to go and chase the ball."

Newton and Norman had been verbally taunting each other for a week before Monday's incident. Both said it hadn't gotten to the point of being disrespectful.

Each said the other has made them better players.

"He's not your average quarterback," Norman said. "Your average quarterback is not going to do what Cam Newton does. The guy is 6-5, [245]. His talent is off the charts. His balls are like rockets and lasers when they come off his arm. Catching it is pretty hard.

"His ability to evade defenders and run down field for a 50-yard gain, it's something you watch in awe of."

The past three days Norman has watched Monday's incident get way more attention than he or Newton believes it should have.

"Wow, it was crazy," Norman said. "I knew there was going to be a little bit of uproar from it, but not this much. This has taken a whole other form that grew out of 30 seconds of whatever you want to call it out there.

"It went to three or four days of press, press, press. Phone's been blowing up. C'mon, man. It's practice."

Norman doesn't anticipate another exchange with Newton or any of his teammates. Reminded the Miami Dolphins will visit practice against Carolina next Wednesday and Thursday and that there have been fights when other NFL teams have gotten together, he smiled.

"I'm not taking any punches from anybody," Norman said. "We're going to maintain ourselves. We're going to play disciplined, sound football. Hey, if they don't like it, it is what it is."

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