The week 15 game between the Giants and the Panthers could have been one of the best games in years. It had high scoring, a huge comeback, and all the intensity the sport can offer. Why wasn’t this one of THE games in history then? Odell Beckham Jr. One thing was missing from this game that ruined it and stopped me caring won or lost: RESPECT.
I love games when the officials allow some contact between defender and receiver. I love when two guys go toe to toe over and over on the pass rush. I love when one guy gets beaten and then puts even more into the next battle, and the other guy expects it because he’s doing the same thing when he loses. These warriors go at it play after play fighting over inches. Yet after each whistle there’s a momentary glance at each other. They take a few long breathes and a moment to take each other in. Sometimes there’s a little tap of the helmet. Sometimes there’s an offer of a hand to a grounded opponent. Sometimes it’s two men running down the field side by side, jockeying, pushing, fighting for position. Then once the ball hits the ground, walking silently side by side back toward the huddle, each one thinking about how great it is to be a part of what’s happening.
The Giants and Panthers could have had all this, but instead one man chose to make the game about himself. Odell Beckham Jr. was an out of control disgrace for several minutes. It wasn’t just a heat of the moment thing. It was a frustration that had boiled over long before the helmet to helmet hit. The officials did what they could by penalizing him when they could but unfortunately he didn’t take the hint. The end result was an intentional attack to a vulnerable player’s head via a selfish,violent, and uncontrolled action designed specifically to injure. It wasn’t a football play; it was an embarrassed idiot putting himself above the game to save his ego. This player not being elected is a travesty to the integrity of the game. What’s more sad is Giants coach Tom Coughlin did nothing either. It’s 35-7 and one of your top guys is losing his mind with rage. He’s already cost the team a couple times from penalties and he sits back and let’s it happen. Then a gross misconduct takes place and he does…..nothing. He later explained that he was letting a young player learn to fight through it, but he also confessed what I think is the only ream reason: he was trying to win the game. This is a horrible outlook when trying to mould someone’s long term career.
The worst thing for football is that the Giants did mount that comeback to force overtime. What should have made the game great was exactly what ruined it, and no one should have wanted it to happen because if Odell Beckham Jr had been ejected for his violence it would have been a lesson. If Tom Coughlin had realized how lucky he was to not lose his star and sat him to teach him the same lesson that would have accomplished the same thing. It would have brought some respect back into the fold. Instead, both these men were rewarded for their disappointing stance.
Now Odell Beckham Jr isn’t going to remember what he did to Josh Norman. He’s only going to remember the touchdowns he got.
I’ll talk about the measly one game suspension handed down by the league in another post , but Coughlin lost the chance at sending a real, meaningful message.