by Ron Borges
Talk of Fame Network
Tom Coughlin had a point this week but Odell Beckham, Jr. didn’t have a case, which is why Coughlin’s New York Giants rightly will be playing without him this Sunday.
Beckham was suspended for a game after utterly losing control of himself during a difficult day with the Carolina Panthers, endangering the health of cornerback Josh Norman when he ear-holed him from the blindside, one of three personal fouls he committed in that game.
It has since come to light (by those trying to justify Beckham’s actions) that he was allegedly taunted and threatened before the game and perhaps was the subject of homophobic insults which, if true, is shameful. Yet none of that can excuse his actions because they were his and his alone.
People commit crimes while in a rage all the time. “Someone pissed me off” isn’t much of a legal defense.
Unless you’re Tom Coughlin, apparently.
“Beckham certainly was wrong, and we’ve said he was wrong from day one,” the Giants head coach said Wednesday, hours before the one-game suspension was upheld on appeal. “But there were factors involved, starting in pregame, which are well documented, which indicate that there was an attempt to provoke him. He was provoked.’’
So what if he was?
If one wants to call that an explanation for acting like both a lunatic and petulant child okay, but it doesn’t change the fact Beckham acted like both a lunatic and a petulant child.
“He was out of control,’’ Coughlin conceded. “He was wrong — there’s no doubt about that. You’d like that it didn’t happen. But the fact of the matter is, the situation in the pregame with the baseball bat, and if you know what occurred at the very beginning of the game, you can understand that there were two sides to this and not just one.
“To depict this as Odell Beckham being wrong, and the only one who’s wrong, is not right, it’s not fair, it’s not justice and it’s not the way it was. If you’re naive enough to think that way, then you’d better do some soul-searching yourself.’’
Well, Tom, if you’re naïve enough to compare taunting or a phony threat involving a bat that never made its way onto the field to a blindside hit to the head on a defenseless opponent that could have given him a concussion or, worse, broken his neck, then you’re an idiot. Or an enabler.
No one is saying Norman and Cortland Finnegan don’t have their own issues to answer for. They do, and they will. No one is saying bringing a baseball bat to the field as some sort of veiled threat of exactly what … I do not know … in any way resembles sportsmanship or good sense.
But the only guy who assaulted anyone was Beckham, Tom. And he, you and the Giants –not to mention Norman – are all lucky that his ear-holing, blindside shot didn’t do serious damage because then he wouldn’t be suspended. He’d be arrested.
It’s all well and good to defend your star player. It’s certainly fair to point out, as the Giants did, that there were extenuating circumstances that may have prompted Beckham’s reaction. But all day long? Please.
This wasn’t a momentary loss of control. It was a three-hour loss of control, which frankly should be of some concern to the Giants and to Beckham going forward.
Certainly one hopes he learned a hard lesson from this and goes on to play like the most talented receiver in the league, which until last Sunday he looked like he was. His 91 catches, 1,396 yards, 13 touchdowns and remarkable one-handed grabs have made him an almost instant star, and what happened Sunday doesn’t erase that.
Unless that kind of behavior is repeated it should be taken for what it seems to have been: A momentary lapse in judgment by an overwrought young man that could have been far worse than it was .. but wasn’t … so we move on.
What it shouldn’t become, though, is an effort to claim he was unjustly punished. Sticks and stones will break your bones, and so will a helmet to the head of a defenseless opponent. Words, on the other hand, will never hurt you.
At least not unless they become an effort to justify actions that were both unjustifiable under any circumstance and actionable had they happened anywhere but on a football field.