The bottom of dogpiles in the NFL can be a nasty place, and Carolina Panthers cornerback Josh Norman confirmed as much after the team’s 20-9 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars.
According to Tim Durr of the Black and Blue Review, Norman admitted to ‘eye-gouging’ Jaguars receiver Allen Hurns in order to recover a fumble.
“I can’t even describe it to you. It was like being in the doghole, trying to get out of there. Fight, fight, fight. Trying to grab the ball, digging in folks’ eyes and everything; eye-gouging. I think Hurns didn’t like that too well. He was pushing and I went somewhere else and I had to understand it was the game and can’t go out there like that.”
No wonder players like Philadelphia Eagles running back Ryan Mathews wear visors on their helmets even when playing in domes.
The most unfortunate part of the Norman situation is realizing that the type of dirty play isn’t unique.
In 2012, Michigan State offensive lineman Jack Allen went for the eyes of an Ohio State player. Former New York Giants center Jim Cordle admitted to the same disgusting practice. Tenacious former NFL linebacker Bill Romanowski admitted to breaking Dave Meggett’s finger “like a chicken bone” in the 1991 NFC Championship Game, per the San Jose Mercury News.
One simple rule exists in fights for a fumble—get the ball at any cost. We should wish that unfortunate part of football didn’t exist, but ignoring reality is foolish.
Don’t hold your breath hoping eye-gouging will disappear. And close your eyelids, too.