SAN JOSE -- Carolina Panthers cornerback Josh Norman today for the first time denied that he uttered any kind of gay slur to New York Giants receiver Odell Beckham Jr. during their December game that resulted in Beckham being suspended. This is the first time he's publicly addressed the accusation.
At a Super Bowl media availability this morning in San Jose, I asked Norman if the use of gay slurs was appropriate trash talk.
Norman chuckled and looked down at the microphone before saying, "Oh, wow. I don't know anything about that situation. I didn't say nothing or make any kind of slurs."
I then asked: "So you didn't make any gay slurs to Odell?"
Norman, who looked visibly uncomfortable in being asked the question, replied: "No, man, next question."
My question was prompted by what Norman said Monday at Super Bowl Media Night about trash talk: "Everything is legal within the confines of the rules. ... It's mental warfare out there, brother. We're not out there picking daises. We're out there giving it to them."
Panthers backup safety Dean Marlowe also said no gay slurs were used against Beckham. "It didn't happen at all. Not at all," Marlowe said.
Panthers safety Charles Tillman also said no slurs were used against Beckham. "[Coach Ron Rivera] talked about it but at the same time he talked about how we didn't do anything wrong. It was just the media hyped up some stuff. They made it bigger than it was. We were good at what we did. ...
"I don't hear a lot of things when I'm in the game. I'm in the zone so I don't hear crowd noise, I don't hear nothing. I get the call from the linebacker and after that I get in my zone. I zone out."
The curious case of Beckham and gay slurs
The circumstances surrounding alleged gay slurs aimed at Odell Beckham, Jr., have got some wondering why the Giants wide receiver is thought to be gay by some NFL players and why everyone has shut up about it.
Beckham was suspended after the Dec. 22 game when he and Norman got into several physical altercations, which prompted Norman to call Beckham crazy and a bitch. After the game, unnamed members of the Giants organization and former NFL player Deion Sanders said Beckham was subjected to gay slurs by unidentified players. Beckham told former NFL player Michael Irvin that he has been called gay slurs in many games this season.
However, at his hearing to appeal his suspension, Beckham did not raise the issue of gay slurs. The NFL reportedly said it could find no evidence any slurs were used. Panthers Coach Rivera said he was satisfied no slurs were used and that they wouldn't be tolerated. I think I was the first person to ask Norman directly about whether he called Beckham any slurs.
Marlowe said that he does not hear gay slurs around the Panthers and he doesn't condone such language. "I don't think any word is appropriate to use if it's totally bad. I don't think you should call anybody any name."