Josh Norman is at peace.
It wasn’t always that way. Norman said five years ago he was “an angry person”. He also had not quite figured out the parts of his life that needed to be important. With age, has come wisdom that doing for others is the thing that matters.
“If you can take yourself out of ‘you’ for a moment… and put yourself in the sense of someone else,” Norman said Thursday. “Then you improved yourself.”
Norman put his money where his philosophy is this week by starting the Buffalo Business Blitz to support Buffalo small businesses bracing for Covid related losses this holiday season. Each business could receive up to $2,500 and Norman is providing $25,000 to start the fund.
Norman calls small businesses the “heartbeat” of any community and the “backbone of America.” He lamented the lack of vibrancy with those businesses closed or severely limited during the pandemic. His hope is to help as many businesses as possible return after the pandemic
“These small businesses is what really provides for us in those every day moments,” he said. “You take that out, where’s the life?”
The Bills cornerback has fully embraced his new hometown, calling Buffalo a “hidden gem”. Norman raved about how “perfect” spring and summer is in Western New York. He enjoys that people on the street really want to “inquire” about each other instead of just polite, but aloof greetings.
“I felt like I was at home,” Norman said. “I’m a South Carolina boy… coming to Buffalo, it’s kinda got a little southern taste. That’s a good thing. A good fit.”
Norman has quickly asserted himself as, not only a leader, but an organizer on his new team. Micah Hyde says Norman’s teammates rib him about never being able to sit back and let someone else be the planner.
“He wants to be the guy the run everything,” Hyde said. “That’s a good trait to have. He wants to be involved. He wants to be a part of this community and not just live in it. That’s why we love him.”
The season has not gone as Norman hoped. He missed the first three games with a hamstring injury. He re-injured the same hamstring before the Jets game and missed another three weeks. Then, Norman tested positive for Covid-19 just before the Cardinals game and spent ten days on the Bills Covid reserve list.
“I’ve never had injuries like this,” Norman said. He’s right. Norman’s six games out this year equals the total for his last five years combined.
Norman acknowledged there are many who have it much worse in this year of national hardship. He still sees himself as blessed. It’s the not an attitude Norman thinks he would have owned a few years.
He gives credit to God and to discovering his true purpose in life: to help people. He believes in the Gandhi’s idea that the best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.
“If I had a Hall of Fame career and you think of me just in that, then I’ve failed you,” Norman said. “If I haven’t had a Hall of Fame career in my philanthropy, then I don’t want to be known.”
Norman has accepted he can’t change the injuries that happened to him or the disease that has affected so many nationally and in his community. The only thing he can control is his attitude and making sure it won’t be negative.
It’s something that took Norman years to learn. Or as he puts it, “40 days and 40 nights”. He can laugh now that there were dark times in the interim. He called last season a “very dark time”.
He came out on the other end better and grateful that he’s gained his new perspective, no matter how much time was necessary. Norman is passionate about his philosophy on the path forward.
“What are you doing here? Are you helping somebody else out or are you sucking up air?”
When the question is that stark, it’s no wonder Norman isn’t stressing about the answer.