EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Other than the fact that the New York Giants' playoff hopes are virtually dead we learned one important -- and incredibly obvious -- thing on Sunday. Odell Beckham Jr. has a lot of growing up to do.
Beckham put on a flashy pre-game show with his light-up Christmas cleats. The game, though, was a disastrous display of immaturity from the 23-year-old star wide receiver.
From the start, Beckham seemed more interested in fighting -- literally -- with Panthers' defensive backs Josh Norman and Cortland Finnegan than he was in actually doing anything productive to help the Giants try to score points.
The fussing and feuding started right away, and never stopped. Here is a play from the first Giants' possession of the game.
Here is one from the third quarter, a play on which Beckham was completely out of control and could easily have found himself ejected.
Beckham was called for three unnecessary roughness penalties, including one where he ran full speed and launched himself at Norman. On another occasion he threw the ball at Norman. He dropped the first two passes thrown to him -- including one that would have been a 48-yard touchdown pass on the game's opening possession. He didn't make a catch until mid-way through the third quarter. This was the first time in his career he did not have a reception in the first half.
Giants coach Tom Coughlin never removed Beckham from the game, although he said he had given it "strong consideration."
"I wanted him to play the game," Coughlin said. "He's gotta learn to deal with some things.
I wanted him out there to win the football game."
"We had made great progress along those lines," Coughlin said. "Today was a step backwards."
The question with Beckham has to be when will this nonsense stop. We saw a brawl with the St. Louis Rams last season. We have seen a few instances this season -- punished and unpunished -- where Beckham has lost his temper. He was fined nearly $9K for throwing a punch at a Buffalo Bills player earlier this season. He will face a hefty fine, and some believe perhaps even a suspension, for his multiple outbursts against the Panthers.
Beckham refused to utter Norman's name after the game, saying repeatedly that it was "unfortunate we lost."
Of his three unnecessary roughness penalties all Beckham would say is "you never want to hurt your team like that."
The most egregious one was the final one where Beckham sprinted at Norman and dove into the cornerback's helmet. It was a horrible, vindictive act by Beckham meant to do nothing but cause harm to Norman. Yet, Beckham said he "didn't know what the flag was for."
"We are out there playing football, we are competing," Beckham said. "You are a competitor; I'm a competitor we are always going to go at it. Anybody who has played sports -- you are competitive and you are going to go as hard as you can."
Norman, who had one personal foul called on him during the game, pulled no punches talking about Beckham after the game.
Josh Norman on Odell "F--- him. He's a B***! Screw him and his whole set up"#NYGvsCAR— Steve Overmyer (@OvermyerTV) December 20, 2015
"Players like that don't deserve to be in the game," Norman told reporters, adding that he felt Beckham should have been ejected following his head shot.
"The guy took a shot at me I don't know how many times. If you take a shot at a guy's head, I mean come on now. That's kinda going a little too far. Maybe he's fed up with the winter time. I think he's in a dark place."
Norman classlessly and unnecessarily taunted Beckham via Twitter following the game.
Beckham dropped the first two passes thrown to him, including one that would have been a 48-yard touchdown pass. He did not have a catch until mid-way through the third quarter. It seemed apparent that the physical play from the Panthers, and perhaps the buildup to his match-up with Norman, got the best of Beckham's emotions.
Unfortunately for the Giants, by the time the second-year wide receiver regained some equilibrium and started making plays the Giants were behind 35-7 and needed a miracle. They almost got one, but they lost and now theplayoffs seem like only a remote possibility.
Beckham is a great player, maybe even a transcendant one. Unfortunately, his greatness can't mask the troubling fact that he can't seem to control his emotions. And those uncontrolled emotions at times hurt the Giants, as was the case Sunday. Beckham has turned himself into more than a target for Eli Manning. He has turned himself into a target for the opposition, which knows it can get under his skin by roughing him up, the officials and the league office.
Beckham's behavior Sunday was inexcusable, childish, immature, ridiculous and unprofessional. He could justifiably have been ejected. He will certainly be hearing from the league office this week. And deservedly so.