It’s clear that Washington Redskins cornerback Josh Norman is a fan of author J.R.R. Tolkien’s “Lord of the Rings” series.
And of Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
Week after week after week (after week after week after week), the opponent coach and player taking part in the weekly conference calls are asked about the play of Rodgers, whose statistical struggles have been sliced and diced ad nauseum for more than a year. They have nary a bad word to say about the former two-time MVP. Norman was no different in his conference call with Packers beat reporters on Wednesday, though his praise was far more colorful.
“What do I see? Hey, man, let’s not get things mistaken over there, man,” Norman said. “That’s No. 12. That is pretty much ‘Gandalf the White’ over there. That’s a wizard. That’s who he is, to me. Tom Brady is ‘Gandalf the Grey’ and he’s just an upper class of that. For me, that’s the best of the best, man. I think a ‘wizard’ pretty much describes everything there is to know about the type of quarterback (he is).”
If you’re not a “Lord of the Rings” fan, “Gandalf the Grey” is an immortal wizard who sacrificed himself so his friends could escape a battle. He returned as “Gandalf the White,” sort of a new-and-improved “Gandalf” with more powers.
It was a fresh and convincing take from one of the men who will be tasked with shutting down Rodgers when the Packers face the Redskins on Sunday night in Washington. In a sporting world filled with coach-speak and clichés meant not to offend anyone or show up as bulletin-board material, the passion in Norman’s voice was unmistakable. Sure, Rodgers is having a second consecutive subpar season from a statistical perspective. Rodgers remains the highest-rated passer in NFL history but his mark of 93.9 ranks only 16th this season. His 63.1 percent completion rate and 6.53 yards per attempt – two other categories in which he ranks among the best in NFL history – stand 20th and 29th in the league.
In light of that, analyzing “what’s wrong with Rodgers” serves as weekly click-bait throughout the world of sports journalism.
“I don’t pay no attention to that,” Norman said. “That’s all people that are on the outside of the game and not an insider. That’s all people who like to point out the X’s and O’s but, at the end of the day, look at the overall thing. That guy can hit you at any time, any place, anywhere, any given day, any given game. I really don’t care what the outside noise is. I know who we’re facing and that’s a cerebral quarterback that’s the best of the best at what he’s doing. Regardless of what others may think of him, I know for a fact that that is the toughest quarterback challenge to face because he has everything in his toolbox, in his arsenal, to make them win.”
Bill Huber is publisher of PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org or leave him a question in Packer Report’s subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at www.twitter.com/PackerReport.