Odell Beckham Jr. has been suspended one game for his actions on the field against Panthers cornerback Josh Norman in Sunday’s 38-35 loss at MetLife Stadium, the NFL announced Monday. The Giants’ star wide receiver is expected to appeal the ruling, and a final decision on his availability for Sunday night’s game against the Vikings is expected to come by midweek.
The league said the suspension was for “multiple violations of safety-related playing rules.” In a letter to Beckham informing him of the suspension, NFL vice president of football operations Merton Hanks wrote: “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.”
Beckham, 23, was flagged for three personal fouls, the most against a player in one game since 2011. There were several instances of punching, shoving and wrestling between Beckham and Norman, but the most egregious of the actions was a helmet-to-helmet hit in which Beckham launched himself at Norman while coming back to “block” on a running play. The two had exchanged blows downfield on that play.
Beckham was not ejected, though many believe he should have been.
No punishment of Norman was announced, but he will not be suspended. “The conduct of other players in the Panthers-Giants game is being reviewed for potential discipline in the form of fines,” the NFL announced.
The head-to-head matchup between Beckham and Norman, two of the best in the NFL at their positions, was highly anticipated. They began fighting on the second snap of the game.
Several videos surfaced Monday on social media from journalists and fans that showed various Panthers holding and swinging baseball bats during parts of the warmup. Panthers players had baseball bats on their sideline in previous games, according to those who cover the team. According to a source, the Giants believe Beckham felt threatened by the bats.
Beckham did not speak to the media on Monday, but his coach and quarterback came strongly to his defense.
“We all know that the personal battles have no presence in the game of football, not at any level,” Tom Coughlin said on a conference call. “I will not defend his actions 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.”
“Of course I support Odell,” Eli Manning said. “He’s still a young player and he has to control his emotions.”
Manning said he thought the lack of penalties early in the game helped escalate the situation. “I thought they went at it early on, but nothing was called,” he said. “That’s when it got out of hand . . . If flags aren’t called early and guys keep doing it, eventually it leads to something further and becomes an issue all game.”
Coughlin said it was not clear to him during the game how dangerous Beckham’s helmet-to-helmet hit was, nor had he kept track of how many personal fouls he had incurred. He said Beckham was not “out of control” when on the sideline and that several coaches spoke with him about maintaining his poise on the field, not only during the game but leading up to it as the anticipation for the face-off with Norman began to build.
He added that Beckham has qualities such as energy and enthusiasm “the likes of which I have never seen.” He said one of the main reasons why he did not pull Beckham from the game was the chance that he could help in the comeback, which he did with the tying touchdown reception.
“If we had a chance to win the game,” Coughlin said, “I wanted him to be out there.”
Now there is a good chance that on this coming Sunday, he won’t be.
According to NFL football operations, a player appealing any discipline ruling is assigned to one of two appeals officers. Former players Derrick Brooks and James Thrash are jointly appointed and paid by the NFL and NFLPA. The officer assigned to the case hears both sides and reviews the evidence. The officer’s decision is final and binding.
If Beckham’s suspension is upheld, the Giants will play without their best player in a game they might need to win to keep their slim playoff hopes alive. The Giants must win their final two games and have Washington lose its final two to win the NFC East title. If Washington beats the Eagles Saturday night, the Giants will be eliminated.
GIANTS WHO HAVE BEEN SUSPENDED
Player, Games, Year, Violation
Frank Filchock, Life, 1947, Accused of fixing the 1946 NFL Championship Game
Merle Hapes, Life, 1947, Accused of fixing the 1946 NFL Championship Game
Lawrence Taylor, 4, 1988, Tested positive for cocaine
Lyle West, 4, 1999, Violation of anabolic steroids policy
*Plaxico Burress, 4, 2008, Accidental shooting*
Michael Boley, 1, 2009, Violation of personal conduct policy
Jimmy Kennedy, 4, 2011, Violation of policy on performance-enhancing substances
Tyler Sash, 4, 2012, Violation of policy on performance-enhancing substances
Will Hill, 4, 2012, Violation of policy on performance-enhancing substances
Will Hill, 4, 2013, Violation of substance-abuse policy
Will Hill, 6, 2014, Violation of substance-abuse policy
Jayron Hosley, 4, 2014, Violation of substance-abuse policy
*Burress was suspended by the Giants, not the NFL.