New York Giants receiver Odell Beckham lost an appeal Wednesday to overturn his one-game NFL ban, meaning he will miss Sunday’s critical contest at Minnesota to sustain the Giants’ playoff hopes.
Former NFL receiver James Thrash heard the appeal in his first year of a role to decide such matters under agreement from the league and its players union.
Beckham was issued the suspension for “multiple violations of safety-related playing rules” in confrontations with Carolina Panthers cornerback Josh Norman, who was fined $26,044 Wednesday for his role in the altercations throughout the unbeaten Panthers’ 38-35 victory over the Giants.
Most notable was a play in which Beckham raced across the field to slam his helmet into that of an unsuspecting Norman.
Beckham has 91 catches for 1,396 yards and 13 touchdowns this season and his absence will be keenly felt when the Giants (6-8) face the Vikings (9-5). New York must win two final games to reach the playoffs while Minnesota can clinch a berth with a victory.
“I apologise for my actions on Sunday,” Beckham said in a statement.
“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 apologise to my teammates, the Giants organization, and to all fans of the NFL.”
Giants coach Tom Coughlin defended Beckham, saying pre-game intimidating comments led to the 23-year-old receiver’s actions.
“To depict this as Odell Beckham being wrong and the only one wrong, is not right. It’s not fair. It’s not justice. It’s not the way it was,” Coughlin said. “If you’re naive enough to think that way, then you better do some soul searching yourself.”
A Carolina practice squad player, reportedly Marcus Ball, carried a baseball bat used as a motivational tool by the Panthers onto the field before the game and exchanged comments with Beckham.
Giants punter Brad Wing said the Carolina player exchanged words several times with Beckham, who replied, “Why you not playing?” and according to Wing was told, “I’ll be the reason you don’t play today and other days,” before he and others ended the exchange.
Since then, the Panthers have said they will no longer bring the bat onto the field before games.
“There were factors involved starting in pregame, which are well documented, which indicate there was an attempt to provoke him,” Coughlin said. “He was provoked, he was out of control, he was wrong, no doubt about that but... there are two sides to this, not just one.”
Norman told ESPN Wednesday that he planned to contest the fine.
“I’m going to appeal it, and I’m going to get my justified case about the whole situation,” Norman said.
“I just pretty much showed people what this guy (Beckham) really is and what he stands for. I just don’t feel like that’s a part of the game that should be played.”
NFL vice president of officiating Dean Blandino said he suggested to the game officials that Beckham and Norman be ejected.
“They had spoken to both head coaches. They had spoken to the players,” Blandino said.
“There was a point during the game when I did get on the headset to the replay official to remind the referee that, ‘You can eject players. You’ll have our full support. This thing cannot get out of control.’”
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