Odell Beckham felt threatened by Panthers' bat stunt, source says

Byand The Associated Press ESPN logo
Monday, December 21, 2015
A referee, left, separates New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham (13) and Carolina Panthers' Josh Norman (24) during the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Dec. 20
A referee, left, separates New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham (13) and Carolina Panthers' Josh Norman (24) during the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Dec. 20
Julie Jacobson-AP

The NFL announced Monday afternoon that New York Giants receiver Odell Beckham Jr. has been suspended for one game.

The NFL suspended Beckham for next weekend's visit to Minnesota for his conduct against Carolina, when he drew three personal foul penalties. The league cited "multiple violations of safety-related playing rules."

Beckham appealed the decision. His case will be heard by either James Thrash or Derrick Brooks, the hearing officers jointly appointed by the NFL and the players' union. Without Beckham, the Giants (6-8) would be missing their best offensive weapon as they try to stay alive in the NFC East race.

Beckham and Panthers cornerback Josh Norman tangled from the beginning of the Panthers' 38-35 victory. At one point, Beckham delivered a diving helmet-to-helmet hit on Norman while blocking.

Beckham, the 2014 Offensive Rookie of the Year, has 91 catches for 1,396 yards and 13 touchdowns, tied for the league lead. He has a base salary of $893,000 and would lose $55,813 for being suspended for Sunday night's game.

The suspension was imposed by NFL Vice President of Football Operations Merton Hanks, who ruled that Beckham's actions placed his opponents at unnecessary risk of injury and should have been avoided.

"At numerous times during (Sunday's) game against the Carolina Panthers, your actions placed a fellow player at unnecessary risk . and clearly did not represent the high standards of sportsmanship expected," Hanks said in a letter to Beckham.

Hanks specifically pointed to a late helmet-to-helmet hit against a defenseless player in which Beckham left his feet prior to contact to spring forward and upward into his opponent (Norman); lowered his helmet and initiated forcible contact with his helmet; and forcibly struck the defenseless player's head.

This "blindside block" was particularly flagrant because Beckham, with a 10-yard running start, had an unobstructed path to his opponent, the position of the opponent was not impacted by any other player, and the contact with the head/neck was avoidable, the NFL's statement said.

The conduct of other players in the game is being reviewed by the NFL for potential fines.

Beckham will not be permitted this week to be at the Giants' practice facility. He is barred from team meetings, attending or watching practices; attending Sunday's game; or having contact with any club personnel except to arrange off-site medical treatment or rehabilitation.

He will be reinstated next Monday.

After Sunday's game, Beckham refused to discuss his run-ins with Norman. There was no media availability with Beckham on Monday.

Asked about the personal fouls, he said Sunday, "You never want to hurt your team like that. I have learned it all throughout my life you know, always second man gets called, always that it is just unfortunate. You go back and watch the film tomorrow and you learn from it."

Norman was infuriated by the helmet-to-helmet hit and called for the league to look at Beckham's play.

"He was 15 yards down the field and went straight for my head. It was just crazy, man," Norman said.

"He's got the maturity of a little kid," Norman added of Beckham, who finished with six catches for 72 yards and a touchdown and also dropped a sure TD pass in the first quarter.


A Carolina Panthers practice squad player carried a black baseball bat onto the field in pregame warm-ups Sunday and was motioning with it toward Odell Beckham Jr. while making comments to the New York Giants receiver, a league source told ESPN's Adam Schefter.

Beckham, according to another source, felt threatened and it helped put him in a certain state of mind for the game, in which he was penalized three times for unnecessary roughness, including a helmet to helmet hit on Panthers cornerback Norman.

READ MORE: Should Odell Beckham Jr. have been ejected?

The pregame incident could provide context to what precipitated Beckham's actions during the game, for which the receiver had been widely criticized.

The source identified the practice squad player as Marcus Ball. Norman later grabbed the bat but didn't engage in pregame words with Beckham and never motioned it toward the receiver, according to the source. An NFL Films camera captured images of Norman holding the bat.

The Panthers have carried bats onto the field during pregame warm-ups throughout the season. The bats are meant to symbolize home-run plays and "bringing the wood."

Panthers cornerback Bene Benwikere, who was placed on injured reserve last week with a knee injury, took to Twitter to say the Panthers had the bats to symbolize his presence. He said he was surprised to hear there's an issue with the NFL.

Norman also received a penalty for unnecessary roughness in the game and said Monday in an interview with ESPN Radio's Mike and Mike program that he will appeal any fine he might receive from the NFL.

In the interview with ESPN Radio, Norman said he was happy Beckham was likely to be suspended and said the Giants receiver should have been ejected for his helmet to helmet hit, which forced Norman to undergo testing for a concussion, which he passed and was able to stay in the game.

Giants coach Tom Coughlin and quarterback Eli Manning supported Beckham in comments Monday. Manning also said that Norman "cried a little bit" to the media in his postgame comments Sunday.

Coughlin though made it clear he wasn't OK with the way things went on the field Sunday.

"We all know that the personal battles have no presence in the game of football, not at any level," Coughlin said, echoing the message he said he gave his team in Monday's meeting. "They're a distraction. They break concentration. They prevent the great game of football from being played as a team, team sport.

"That being said, there are qualities that Odell Beckham, this young man, brings to this football team the likes of which I've never seen. He has great energy. He has great enthusiasm. He gives great effort. He does it literally every day that he walks out on the field. I will not defend his actions yesterday, because they were wrong and this particular franchise and organization does not tolerate that. But I will defend the young man, and the quality of the person. I will defend him as long as I am able."

ESPN's Dan Graziano contributed to this report.

Report a Typo