Redskins cornerback Josh Norman responded to Dez Bryant on Friday via NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport and expressed a level of surprise in the heightened drama, but for some former NFL players, Norman let it get far enough himself.
On NFL GameDay Morning Sunday, former NFL stars Kurt Warner and Michael Irvin both said the feud was hurting what was otherwise a good matchup between good players.
"I'll tell you what really jumps out to me is when these guys just start talking about, 'Well he only had three catches against me.' Back in the day, we either won or we lost," Warner said. "If we lost, I didn't do enough. I don't care what else happened in the game. If I lost, I didn't do enough. As opposed to, 'You only had three catches on me. I'm good.'
"No. That's the stuff that becomes so much about me, me, me, me, me and what did I do, when this is a we game, this is a team game. That's what it's all about, winning and losing as a team. That's the thing that jumps out to me, especially with all these kids watching. You see all of that stuff, pointing to the back of the jersey. It's what on the front of the jersey and it's about a team more than individuals, but I see all these battles becoming individual battles as well as we're keeping all these individual stats."
Added Irvin: "I enjoy those battles. But I enjoy within the game. Not just Josh, Dez is going to put out film where he shows he was beating Josh. They didn't throw you the ball! I don't want to see that. It doesn't matter. Let's be real here, all Dez should have said was 'I won the game, man. We won the game, we're 10-1 and we're moving on.' ... But on the football field, let's play football. I've been in great one-on-one battles, and there's some great cornerbacks that are wearing gold jackets today. And I've never seen some of the stuff that I've seen.
"We don't talk about this enough with Josh Norman. Watch the stuff that Josh Norman has done on the football field. But we spend so much time talking about Odell Beckham that we don't talk about all the extra stuff. Picking people up, bodyslamming people, he did that both times in the battle against Odell Beckham. This time, he's grabbing Dez's foot, twisting his foot. It's like 'Come on man, play the game of football.' You got talent, you want to be a shutdown corner, shut it down on the football field between the whistles. Don't be doing all of that junk. Every week it's something. One week Josh is arguing about the referee 88, now this week it's Dez Bryant 88, I don't know who it's going to be what 88 next week. Just play football."
While Irvin and Warner are saying something that a majority of football fans agree with, they also played in a different league. With the rise of position-specific statistics and analysis, we're uncovering great players at a higher rate than ever before. We're also being more pointed in our criticism when things don't go well.
Players like Norman and Bryant have new information at their disposal and better, more accurate ways of criticizing one another. Does that make the landscape better, worse or just different than it was 10 years ago?