In Defense of Odell Beckham Jr.
by J.D. Cook
NOTE: This article is a special blend of Giants Blog and Tuesday Morning Tailback by J.D. Cook. It comes at an opportune time, during the week of the fifth anniversary of the very first Tuesday Morning Tailback in 2010.
Football is a physical sport. The goal is to literally pound your opponent into submission. So it’s really not very shocking that emotions and competitiveness occasionally boil over into actions that go beyond a play. Odell Beckham Jr. was absolutely out of line when he started hitting Josh Norman after the whistle. The smart thing to do would have been to simply let his play do his talking. This was the attitude Beckham Jr. adopted in the 4th quarter when he caught a touchdown over Norman’s head. As Eli Manning said, this was the only time that Norman truly played Beckham one on one.
Now a day later the NFL has decided to suspend Beckham Jr. The action is warranted but hypocritical as well. It is a well-known fact that defenders often ‘trash talk’ to get into opposing players heads. Sometimes defenses employ gimmicks as well. In the case of the Panthers, their pre-game ritual apparently involves taunting their opponent with black baseball bats. This symbolically means they are going to take the other team to the wood shed. In other words, they are going to beat you. Along with that they apparently toss homophobic slurs at the opponent. This is of course, all in the spirit of ‘gamesmanship’.
Another part of the Panther’s defensive plan seems to be admonishing their opponents. After the game Beckham praised the Panthers as a great team. Josh Norman cursed Beckham out and lobbied for his suspension. He repeatedly attacked Beckham’s character over the next 24 hours, describing him as a dirty player. Beckham Jr has still not said a negative word against Norman. I guess there is such a thing as a sore winner. Listening to Norman, you almost forget that he started the ongoing feud with Beckham with a body slam early in the game.
As for the big play in question, it certainly looks dreadful when slowed down and over analyzed. A violent shot aimed at Norman; except, what if it wasn’t? I’m not sure where the helmet to helmet narrative began but I don’t understand why any player would willingly attempt to head-butt another player. Besides the obvious penalty it is also a potential brain injury for the person dishing out the hit. If any one player had moved a little bit in any direction, Beckham Jr’s hit would have been clean and may have resulted in the Giant’s running back shaking loose of the two defenders trying to tackle him.
Putting moral opinions on split second football decisions seems silly to me because of how quickly any one thing can change a play. I was a huge supporter of safety John Lynch, who was often labeled as ‘dirty’ because he did his job and put people on the ground when they came across his section of the field. If Beckham Jr’s block succeeded, no one would be suspended now. That said, it did not succeed and Beckham Jr is being painted as a malicious villain by everyone except his team.
The N.F.L. media, which has built Beckham Jr into a star since his catch in Dallas, has suddenly decided to tear him apart with a frenzy usually reserved for criminals. This is the same N.F.L. media that defended Terrell Owens through an entire career of locker room destruction. Beckham Jr is at fault for his actions but the N.F.L Media and Josh Norman contributed to the current situation in New York. Yet the N.F.L. Media is never accountable for its moral lynchings, which now occur regularly. In the current sports news world it seems like every player who is under suspicion of anything is instantly guilty of whatever they are accused. They apparently aren’t concerned with both sides of this story because Norman and the Panthers defense certainly contributed to the ugly situation that unfolded on Sunday Afternoon.
Tuesday Morning Tailback is a periodic article during football season which take a critical look at the NFL. We do this from the base belief that NFL football is the greatest game in the history of mankind, but some recent policies and the overall direction of the league has chipped away at this greatness. Our primary goal is to spark debate on these subjects, so please leave your own opinion on this article in the comment box below.