Though he is now 35, Norman's outsized personality and bravado was on display in speaking to the media as he built himself and his Carolina team up for a showdown with Tom Brady's Tampa Bay Buccaneers that could end up deciding the NFC South. The return of Norman, who was signed to Carolina's practice squad after Jaycee Horn broke his wrist in Week 16's win over the Detroit Lions, is notable, given his contribution to the Panthers' greatest team ever and the places he's been since -- including owning his own business.
Speaking to reporters, Norman shared that he had been working as a barista at an Atlanta coffee shop he owns prior to his return to the Panthers. According to The Athletic, Norman had begun planning his business -- Omni Coffee & Eggs -- during COVID, and had been working there during the 2022 season while waiting to see if the right situation arose for him to return to the NFL.
"I was in a coffee shop working. It was pretty cool, I was a barista," Norman said. "That's a whole 'nother story for another day. This part, for me, it was just exciting. Because I knew it was only a matter of time. Suitors for me, it was just like playoffs, when we got through that time seeing who was gonna be viable. This came up, and like I said, I couldn't even write this script even better than what it is.
"We've got an opportunity here to do something great. All that time I was sitting down was just like reflecting on all of it. And when the time came, yeah, was just gonna be ready."
Adding to the intrigue of Norman's storyline is that his coffee shop is right across the street from Fellaship, the cigar bar owned by former Panthers quarterback Cam Newton.
"We actually are great business pals, I'll say that," Norman said. "He's across the street, I'm on the other side of the street."
A fifth-round pick by the Panthers in the 2012 NFL Draft, Norman developed into a true shutdown corner by his fourth season and played a pivotal role on a Carolina team that went 15-1 and dominated the NFL on their way to appearing in Super Bowl 50. Norman was a First-Team All-Pro and Defensive Player of the Year candidate, but he would end up leaving the team after the season when general manager Dave Gettleman, believing a long-term deal was "not attainable," rescinded the franchise tag that had been placed on Norman.
After playing for the Washington Commanders, Buffalo Bills and San Francisco 49ers, Norman now returns to the Panthers as they try to win their first NFC South title since 2015 under the direction of interim head coach Steve Wilks, who was Norman's defensive backs coach during his first stint in Carolina.