Norman said several of the younger Carolina defensive backs came to the locker room during warm-ups and said Bryant called him out. He said Bryant “popped off” at him on the game’s second play after an incompletion to the Pro Bowl receiver down the left sideline.
“He shouldn’t have ticked off my DBs in pregame,” Norman said. “That took me to a whole other place. Once that happened, you can’t get me fired up [enough]. I’m telling you, I’m going to be at your throat for four quarters every time.”
Bryant caught only one pass for 6 yards when Norman was defending him. He caught only two passes for 28 yards on eight targets for the game.
He didn’t talk to reporters after the game.
“The disrespect was just through the roof,” Norman said.
Norman took a shot of his own at Bryant after the game, referencing the $70 million, five-year deal the receiver signed in the offseason.
“Hey, they need to get Dez’s 70 mil back,” he told reporters outside the locker room, according to The Dallas Morning News.
Norman said he was so fired up during the week with talk about Bryant possibly having a big day against him and the unbeaten Panthers (now 11-0) being an underdog that he had to go watch the movie “300” to get him to a dark place.
He had planned to save that movie for motivation later in the season.
“I had to get myself physically, mentally prepared to the point I didn’t want him to catch a single ball,” Norman said. “I was on him like white on rice. I didn’t care. And I was able to do it because of great teammates I have.”
Norman said he was in the locker room getting stretched out and listening to music when second-year cornerback Bene Benwikere and a few others told him Bryant was calling for him.
“I took my headset off, and they were like, ‘Bro, you’ve got to get after him,'” Norman said.
Norman was called for unsportsmanlike conduct late in the fourth quarter when he went into an animated and vocal celebration after successfully defending a pass to Bryant in the end zone.
Coach Ron Rivera said he would have preferred Norman not done that, but added he’s not “a big fan of throwing the flag” in that situation.
“I get it, we’re at their place,” Rivera said. “That’s what the referee said to me, and I can’t argue that. If it would have been at our place, it wouldn’t have been a big deal.”
Norman thought it was a big deal that Bryant, in his mind, disrespected him.
“I went Dark Knight on him,” said Norman, who likens himself to Batman.
Norman also called out Las Vegas odds-makers and ESPN’s Skip Bayless for disrespecting Carolina.
“For everybody that paid their money for that, I appreciate you guys but Las Vegas lost,” Norman said. “And even Skip Bayless. We’re going to give thanks to him for picking us a two- or four-point underdog.
“I hope he’s happy right now, at home, eating crow. Because obviously he was wrong as well.”