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NFL upholds Odell Beckham Jr.’s one-game suspension

Odell Beckham #13 of the New York

Odell Beckham #13 of the New York Giants looks on from the bench during the second half of a game against the Carolina Panthers at MetLife Stadium on Sunday, Dec. 20, 2015 in East Rutherford, N.J. Photo Credit: Jim McIsaac

Odell Beckham Jr.’s appeal of his one-game suspension has been denied, and the star receiver will not be on the field with his teammates Sunday night when the Giants face the Vikings.

The NFL suspended Beckham on Monday after a series of flagrant plays that included a helmet-to-helmet hit on Panthers cornerback Josh Norman the previous day. Beckham appealed the decision, and his case was heard by former NFL wide receiver James Thrash on Wednesday afternoon in Manhattan. Thrash is one of two appeal officers duly appointed and paid by the NFL and NFLPA.

Beckham addressed the team Monday and apologized in person. He issued an apology on social media shortly after the decision was announced Wednesday evening, saying that sportsmanship is an important part of the game. “I dropped the ball on sportsmanship on Sunday,” he wrote. “I apologize to my teammates, the Giants organization, and to all fans of the NFL.”

The decision leaves the Giants with the possibility of fighting to keep their postseason hopes alive on Sunday without their best playmaker. If Philadelphia beats Washington on Saturday night, the Giants will need to win to stay in the NFC East race. If Washington wins or the Giants lose, the Giants will be eliminated.

Earlier in the day, it was reported that Norman will face a fine of $26,044 for two infractions in the game. That’s roughly half of the $52,529 game check that Beckham will lose because of the suspension, but more significantly for the Giants, Norman will be allowed to play Sunday.

“To depict this as Odell Beckham being wrong and the only one wrong is not right,” Tom Coughlin said Wednesday morning, before Beckham’s appeal was heard. “It’s not fair, it’s not justice, it’s not the way it was. If you are naïve enough to think that way, then you’d better do some soul-searching yourself.”

Norman was fined $8,681 for a facemask penalty and $17,363 for striking Beckham in the head and neck area, according to the report from USA Today. He reportedly will appeal the fine.

After his social media mea culpa, Beckham also issued a statement through the Giants. “I owe some people an apology,” he said. “I wasn’t raised to act like I did the other day. I am not here to make excuses for my conduct. This isn’t about anything that was said or done to me. This is about my behavior, and I am responsible for my behavior. People expect better from me, and I expect better from myself.”

He apologized again to the organization, the team’s fans, Coughlin and his teammates in the statement.

“A lot of kids look up to me as a role model,” he said. “That is a responsibility I accept and take seriously. Many of the parents of those kids have asked since Sunday what they should say to their children about my conduct. I don’t have the perfect answer, but I think one thing they can say is how I handled myself the other day is an example of how not to conduct yourself. I displayed poor sportsmanship. And those parents can also say that when you act like that, there are consequences. And I hope to be an example of somebody who did something wrong and learned from it.”

Teammates and close friends of Beckham’s said the player was upset by not only his actions but also by the repercussions that may wind up costing the team a playoff berth.

“He felt bad,” Coughlin said when asked to describe the second-year wide receiver’s mind-set during their conversations. “That’s probably the best way to describe it.”

“He’s obviously disappointed that his actions hurt our team and he could not be playing with us this week,” punter and close friend Brad Wing said. “At the end of the day, that’s all he cares about. He wants to be playing alongside his teammates and winning football games. Regardless of what anyone else thinks, that’s the honest-to-God truth about Odell. He’s hurt that he can’t be here today, but he’ll be all right.”

I appealed my suspension because it is a right granted to all players under the NFL’s CBA and because I owe it to my teammates to do everything I can to be on the field this week. Regardless of the outcome of my appeal, I apologize for my actions on Sunday. I work hard to be great and accepting the Blessing of having the physical skills to play at this level brings the responsibility to conduct myself in a certain way on and off the field. Sportsmanship and respecting the game are as important as blocking, running routes and catching the football. I dropped the ball on sportsmanship on Sunday.

I apologize to my teammates, the Giants organization, and to all fans of the NFL.

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