CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Carolina Panthers cornerback Josh Norman is willing to bow down to "The Sheriff" if he intercepts Peyton Manning in Super Bowl 50. Norman, who emerged as one of the game's best corners this season, was effusive in his praise of Manning when speaking to reporters Thursday from his locker.
"He's 'The Sheriff,' man. I've admired him since I grew up," Norman said. "I have a lot of respect for that guy. ... Even though he's got some age on him, he's 'The Sheriff.' If I even get the ball from him, if he throws an interception or something and the guy allows me to be there for it, I'm probably going to bow to him. That's how much I really think about a guy."
Manning was given the nickname by ESPN's Jon Gruden during a 2009 Monday Night Football broadcast because the then-Indianapolis Colts quarterback laid down the law on opposing defenses.
The Panthers and Denver Broncos meet in Super Bowl 50 on Feb. 7.
Norman last faced Manning when he was part of the Panthers' cornerback rotation as a rookie in 2012, and the Broncos quarterback did not throw an interception in Denver's 36-14 win.
This time around, Norman is a defensive cornerstone and is up for NFL Defensive Player of the Year after getting four interceptions amid his success guarding several top receivers.
Those achievements, however, haven't curbed Norman's stargazing.
"That's PM. That's P freaking M, the guy you've been idolizing," Norman said, explaining how his friends have talked to him this week. "I've played the Colts on the game system [years ago]. ... This is the guy we're facing, man. It's so unbelievably great that God would allow it to happen this way."
Most agree Manning isn't the same quarterback from those days with the Colts. He's 39, his arm strength has diminished and he orchestrates a run-first offense. Panthers coach Ron Rivera, however, said Manning is the "same guy," making for a "great chess match" on the field next week.
Norman acknowledged Manning has lost his fastball -- saying the Panthers' secondary will "calculate our risks when they come" -- but he's not underestimating motivation by "The Sheriff" for a Super Bowl ride into the sunset.
"It's probably going to be his last game. I know he wants to go out with a bang," Norman said. "I'm rooting for him, but shoot, I want that ring. I'll do everything I can to minimize what he likes to do, but at the same time, I respect the heck out of the guy. We'll see what happens."