ASHBURN, Va. – Josh Norman thought football was difficult.
Then he appeared on “Dancing With the Stars.”
The Washington Redskins cornerback had some impressive performances with dance partner Sharna Burgess on the show in Los Angeles and each week took a red-eye back to the East Coast for the team’s off-season program. Norman and Burgess finished second to skater Adam Rippon and Jenna Johnson.
Norman was back on the field this week with a new appreciation for dancing and a fresh approach to his day job.
“My mindset is a bit different,” Norman said Wednesday. “I can go further now than I thought I could and push myself to pretty much a new level, I feel, a new height. So now I look at things and I (used to) be like, ‘That’s hard.’ Nah, I don’t think so.”
Norman didn’t quite know what to expect out of “Dancing With the Stars,” which included 12-hour days of learning, practicing, rehearsing and performing . Add in the cross-country flights and Norman was more fatigued than after a one-on-one showdown with Giants receiver Odell Beckham Jr.
He approached the performances like NFL games, though, and was glad he took on the adventure that reminded him of theatre class in college.
“You could be someone else,” Norman said. “You could be different. Everybody is different in their own right, and everybody work to a common goal. Part of it is just going out there amongst athletes and trying to best them all.”
Norman got a good laugh about going shirtless for dance routines because “there’s a lot of cougars that like the shirt off” and knew voting was involved. Taking a temporary break from his pursuit of the Lombardi Trophy, Norman came away crushed that he didn’t help Burgess win the Mirrorball Trophy she has been trying for the past seven years.
“This was the year to break that curse and I wasn’t the one to do it and it’s just like, ‘Dang,'” Norman said. “It’s like a heart-throbbing gut-puncher that I couldn’t be the one for her to get over the hump.”
Norman was a winner to his teammates, a handful of whom travelled to L.A. to watch the finale Monday. Running back Chris Thompson was impressed by the dance moves and felt his teammate “got cheated.”
“I never saw Josh as being a dancer, for one,” Thompson said. “It was great. It was just cool just to see somebody doing something different.”
Coach Jay Gruden said he watched every episode and came away impressed with Norman’s rhythm, execution and willingness to balance dancing and football.
“The work that he put in to get ready for that show and also fly back out on red eyes and get here for practice or OTAs, I just really had a lot of admiration for what he did and what he accomplished because that’s not easy,” Gruden said. “I thought he should’ve won the dang thing. I think he got ripped off, to be honest with you.”
Even in a losing effort, Norman figures “Dancing With the Stars” helped his physical and mental preparation, his footwork, posture and focus. Call it a journey of self-discovery.
“It taught me a lot about myself,” Norman said. “I grew tremendously. I wouldn’t have wanted anything else from it than that.”
With the Redskins in the middle of organized team activities, Norman was hardly breaking a sweat Wednesday after what he had been through under the lights each week dancing.
“This is a cakewalk,” he said. “This is like picking daisies.”
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