The NFL has upheld the one-game suspension given to New York Giants' wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. The decision was announced Wednesday evening. Beckham's appeal was heard on Wednesday by NFL appeals officer James Thrash
Beckham was suspended for "multiple violations of player-related safety rules," the most egregious of which was when he launched himself for a helmet-to-helmet hit on Carolina Panthers cornerback Josh Norman. Norman has been fined for his role in Sunday's fiasco.
Beckham issued the following apology:
The question for Beckham now is where he goes from here? Does this become a lesson learned -- finally -- from which the 23-year-old superstar matures? Can he learn to handle the provocation and extra-curricular physicality from other teams and answer with his talent, as I suggested in this week's "Big Blue Chat" podcast? Or, will this tarnish his image, his enthusiasm? Will it be the beginning of a pattern?
Giants' head coach Tom Coughlin strongly defended Beckham on Wednesday morning, before his appeal hearing had even begun:
"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. If you're naive enough to think that way then you better do some soul-searching yourself," Coughlin said. "Beckham certainly was wrong, and we said he was wrong from Day 1. But, there are factors involved, starting in pre-game, which are well-documented, which indicate that there was an attempt to provoke him, he was provoked, he was out of control, he was wrong, there's no doubt about it, you'd like that that didn't happen.
"But the fact of the matter is if you know the situation pre-game with the baseball bat and if you know what occurred at the very beginning of the game you can understand that there was two sides to this and not just one."
Be that as it may, and it is undoubtedly correct, Beckham's response to the situation was inappropriate. Looking at the warning signs, though, we should have known that a cataclysmic event involving Beckham was coming.
There was the brawl in St. Louis last season when, unhappy about a hit out of bounds, Beckham kicked Rams' linebacker Alec Ogletree. There was his fine earlier this season for throwing punches during a game against the Buffalo Bills. After that game, Beckham acknowledged being a target for opposing teams and perhaps foreshadowed Sunday's on-field metldown:
"It's tough to walk the line" between aggression and retaliation especially "when they target you," Beckham said, per the New York Daily News.
No one should have to endure homophobic slurs. Whether it is because of jealousy due to the over-the-top attention he receives while playing on a losing team, annoyance over some of his flamboyance, or just the acknowledgment that the best defense against Beckham is to get under his skin, Beckham has likely contributed to having that target placed on him.
What happens now, in the next chapter of Beckham's career? That is up to him. There is no one in the Giants' locker room with the gravitas to guide him, read him the riot act, when necessary, whatever. There is no MIchal Strahan, no Chris Snee or David Diehl, no Justin Tuck or Antonio Pierce. Instead, the players in the locker room have begun to look at Beckham as a leader -- a post he isn't ready to assume. Victor Cruz might be able to help, but he really has hardly been around during Beckham's two seasons.
Coughlin wants to guide Beckham and wants him to learn, but has shown an unwillingness to really confront and teach him. The veteran coach is even taking heat from his own former players for his kid glove treatment of Beckham.
Beckham is on his own to figure this out. Let's hope he can.