Dear Santa: Make Odell Beckham Story Go Away

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Dec 20, 2015; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton (right) and free safety Kurt Coleman (left) try to calm down cornerback Josh Norman (24) after unsportsmanlike penalty during the third quarter against New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham (not pictured) at MetLife Stadium. Carolina Panthers defeat the New York Giants 38-35. Mandatory Credit: Jim O

Coughlin’s idea that Beckham was provoked falls into the ‘collective guilt’ answer. The two cornerbacks that Beckham had incidents with were Josh Norman and Cortland Finnegan. Neither is the most angelic of characters. Norman would have been playing to a character in his head in his matchup with Beckham, so his behavior would be linked to whomever he portrayed that day. Finnegan has a reputation for dirty play, though Finnegan himself does not understand it. So they aren’t the most sympathetic of characters.

Nor did Norman spare Beckham in the media. Granted Beckham had tried to hurt him in the head. It’s hard to fault Josh Norman from being angry about it.

But Norman’s “crying to the press,” as Eli Manning called it, was not the biggest mistake here. The failure to calm down Beckham was a bigger one. The ones who could have prevented that were the Giants or Coughlin.

The Giants could have pulled Beckham aside after the first two personal fouls and talked him down. That should have been Coughlin (which is entirely consistent with Coughlin’s hard-nosed reputation), Manning, or some veteran. Jason Pierre-Paul perhaps should have been the one. Someone with clout.
Second, the Giants should not have been so inflexible as to not move Beckham away from Norman in the formation. If Beckham had been in the slot, Norman would not have followed him. This was indeed the danger that I thought the Panthers would find themselves in.

Third, the referees should have acted to enforce the rules. Why they did not do so is an answer only known to them. Perhaps Troy Aikman was right during the FOX telecast in saying that Beckham’s star status influenced the refs to leave him in the game. Perhaps Hakeem Nicks would not been offered the same luxury. It did almost effect the outcome of the game.

Fourth, the media needs to get its story straight. A series of stories have left one fact or another in favor of something, I’m not sure what. Some stories have gone with the ‘provoked’ angle but refused to acknowledge that the Panthers’ position is that no homophobic slurs were spoken. You would get the idea that Beckham really was provoked since that one fact is absent.

Beckham’s actions have been condemned around the football community. Ray Lewis told Beckham in a phone call that he was out of control. Only Norman has attacked Beckham’s character, and he was the only one in real risk of injury.

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