With Beckham Suspension, N.F.L. Belatedly Acts to Cover Itself

Dec 22, 2015 · 127 comments
chuck (diamondhead, MS)
it is amazing that all of the media outlets show the ear hole incident but refuse
to show that previously to that incident there was a double punch to Beckham's head .... they show you what you want they want you to see and that you see their opinion... for Norman not to be fined and to his coach praise him for actions is proof that the perfect team ain't so perfect .... and they also have to remember that everyone is watching them and they now how to get in the Panthers head ..... Here kitty kitty ..... the big dogs are out to get you now... Rivera might want to keep his mouth shut because the NFL gave him a pass on this instant so his team could stay perfect .... the call out may not have been smart. If they lose now, he can blame the NFL for taking away the big black bat ....
Patriots fan (NY)
Let's be honest when we cover the nfl. Stop pretending it's anything other than highly entertaining bloodsport. Coughlin was frank with you because he doesn't subscribe to the PC police nonsense. The rules of the game are one: winning isn't everything, it's the only thing.
Jose (Upstate NY)
Amazing how points of view vary.

The fix was clearly in for the Panthers- the NFL wanted a non tainted team to have a perfect season. Beckham was goaded and body slammed on the field until he retaliated. The refs, perhaps with whatever shred of ethics they had left, allowed him to respond to the assault he sustained early on, but as it always is, the one who retaliates always gets caught and blamed.

Ron Rivera is to blame, as his game plan clearly was to take Beckham out of the game by getting the better of him emotionally and it worked. Too bad everyone can't see what really happened....
Phil M (Jersey)
He should have been suspended for the rest of the season. Then he could have had more time to reflect about his juvenile and dangerous behavior on the field while watching other teams in the playoffs.
Lou Good (Page, AZ)
Money, money, money. That's all the NFL stands for and all they care about. Sunday was also the last home game of the SAN DIEGO Chargers after 55 years of loyal support by the fans. Why? Money. Here's a league awash in cash and yet they extort the taxpayers to build new stadiums or you can kiss your team goodbye.

They talk about their concern for the players but when one blind sides an opponent and deliberately takes a shot at his head? One game suspension. Why? TV ratings and money. If Beckham played for a team that had already been eliminated, and from a relatively small market, his season would have been over. But not in the media capitol of the world, not where the league has it's offices. Not gonna happen.

It's disgusting.
Grant (Boston)
Chalk up another bonehead move by NFL Commissioner Rodger Goodell. With the level of violence and celebrated hits each week, both not penalized with flag or suspension, if in fact not rewarded, Beckham’s behavior, although flagrant, is no different except that he is on offense, not defense.

Football has gotten out of hand and only made worse by this feckless and inconsistent commissioner.
nedskee (57th and 7th)
father coughlin is a charlatan.
Just what sport have the self righteous here been watching over the years?
It really is amazing that the first offensive player called for targeting would cause such an uproar. Defensive players do it all of the time. Obviously that does not make it right and the suspension is warranted. Did the player from Pittsburgh get suspended for his hit last Sunday?
Swans21 (Stamford, CT)
This article is sad, a respected writer using Odell Beckham as a proxy for his issues with the NFL. The only correct thing in the article is where Mr. Rhoden calls out the officials, who week after week embarrass themselves and the league with their incompetence.

It is also sad because, just like the moronic announcers calling the game, or the sell-out ken dolls masquerading as "journalists" on espn, it ignores Norman's role in all of this.

For me, it confirms the biases regarding these incidents. Player A cheap shots player B. Announcers say nothing, referees keep flag in pocket. Player B fights back, referees suddenly get interested, call penalties, eject players. Announcers preach how player B really needs to control himself, or that "there's no place in the game for this kind of behavior." Lesson learned: be the first to cheap shot, you'll get away with it. If you don't believe me, why do cheap shots continue to occur? Answer: re-read this paragraph.

Where is the secton on how Norman could have defused the situation? Not much to ask, considering he started it in the first place.

It was clear to me watching the game that Carolina was more interested cheap shots and playing dirty than playing with class. While I would like to see a team run the table to shut those obnoxious 1972-73 Dolphins up, I will be rooting against Carolina to do so.

P.S. - Disclaimer: I am a Jets fan.
John (Barry)
Beckham got mugged on every play, and when the refs didn't do the right thing, he took matters into his own hands. I'm sorry he lost his cool.

If you suspend him, suspend Norman for kicking and punching Beckham multiple times during the game.

And suspend the refs for not controlling the game. I was outraged at them before the controversial play. Rhoden's article would have been more fair had he faulted Norman and the officials, they had a large part in the matter and get off without penalty. Not fair.
Observer (Connecticut)
The banter between the two players had been escalating all week. Shame on the NFL and the respective teams personnel for not getting in front of this issue before it got in front of the TV cameras. Trouble had been brewing all week before the game, and most likely longer than that. The officials on the field are not sports psychologists, and in a way it is fortunate they did not react to the symptoms of a deeper problem between players. This is an example of how the sports media can really help out the league and the fans, by reporting on the tensions building between the two players during the days leading up to the game and revealing the potential for problems on the field on game day. That may have forced the league and the teams to deal with the matter proactively. That would be impressive and useful media coverage.
Casey Jonesed (Charlotte, NC)
'“I hope he learns exactly what should be learned: that there is no place in this game for these personal battles,” Coughlin said. “That it is team first, team last, team always, and nothing stands above that. And that he is responsible to his team and to his franchise, to his ownership, just as we all are.”

Coughlin should read his words to himself while looking in a mirror.
The Coach is in charge and he allowed this conduct... knowingly.

The NFL allowed this to boost ratings and then slaps Beckham on the wrist.
That's right kids if you are good enough you can be a total ass star of the
NFL. If you doubt it look no further than Beckham and Greg Hardy.

And why no suspension of this completely incompetent officiating crew?
TheNorth (NYC)
Love that photo of his TD over Normal.
kjd (taunton, mass.)
Where was the outrage by the NY sports media yesterday? Were they waiting for the NFL to make a decision before they jumped on the bandwagon??
boji3 (new york)
It is interesting how the 'good ol' boy guys on ESPN are saying this stuff goes on all the time. Really? I have been watching this stuff for a half century (god, I'm old) and this was so disgusting I actually understood for the first time the argument people now make for giving up football as entertainment. But OB really demonstrated how thin skinned and overly sensitive he is- if he was in fact taunted by the pre game behavior of the Panthers. On a more macro scale his behavior- millennium behavior btw- is what many of us are criticizing on the social/political scale as well. Young many affluent twenty year old somethings who are so hypersensitive and thin skinned, they fall apart when a few negative words head in their direction. Very troubling for the future generations.
Lorem Ipsum (DFW, TX)
Time to equip the referees with red cards. Ejection means you play a man short, in this case on offense, for the rest of the game.

David Beckham played under those rules. Why not Odell Beckham?
pjt (Delmar, NY)
Old saying "It takes two to tango". The helmet-to-helmet hit should have got Beckham ejected, no doubt about it. So should some of his other nonsense too. But the first skirmish of the game was initiated by Norman (no call), shortly thereafter, at the end of a play that neither player was involved in, Norman body slammed Beckham into the turf (again, no call). Officials? There were officials at the game someplace weren't there? I'm really curious how the NFL could review the game and not at least fine Norman. And the baseball bat nonsense? So appearently there is a place for street gang behavior to be visiably allowed by the NFL.
Hal (New York)
Beckham does deserve a suspension for the helmet-to-helmet hit, no doubt.

But Marcus Ball and Josh Norman menacing Beckham with a bat before the game? (Check the video.) Seriously? Carrying a baseball bat and swinging it anywhere but on a baseball field means only one thing--a threat to physically injure someone. Not that Beckham did or didn't "feel threatened" by it, as some Panther fans assert, but it's simply unacceptable. What's next--toy assault rifles? Just stop it.

As for the homophobic slurs, if proved, they merit fines and suspensions, absolutely.
Dave k (Florida)
Beckham deserves a 6 game suspension and notice that another infraction will ban him for life. Both the refs and 2 Coaches should be fined as well.
JL (New Jersey)
They both should have been thrown out of the game, Normans no angel either. I'm a GIANT's fan, Beckham should be done for the season. Remember Darryl Stingley's hit by Jack Tatum, both these kids could have been paralyzed. The NFL as a whole has let this conduct get out of control. It seems players work more on there celebrations then the playbook. The NFL is beginning to resemble the WWE only the hit's are real.
justdoit (NJ)
No one could remove a star player with game and season on the line!!

How 'bout sanctimonious, Mr. Old School, by-the-rules Coughlin? He showed himself to be a real hypocrite and just another cog in the NFL wheel. Long overdue to fire this pretender.

PS - obtw, for all who point to his SB accomplishments and HoF credentials - 2 extremely lucky (albeit great) catches (Tyree and Manningham) are all that elevate his pedestrian non-HoF coaching career.
Tom Berkelman (Mpls, MN)
Hire Vince McMann of the WWE. His ego would love it and I believe at least he would have handed OBJ one of those folding steel chairs to wack D backs over the head.
soxared040713 (Roxbury, Massachusetts)
Mr. Rhoden, when your one-handed grab for a very long touchdown is replayed ad infinitum, during the week, during pregame shows, at halftime, on the post-game shows, on all the networks, when New York worships you for one play, then you don't live by the rules set out for ordinary mortals. Odell Beckham is what Roger "The shield is all" Goodell wants. If Beckham didn't suit up for the Giants (Chargers, anyone?) he would have been tossed and fined after the first altercation. It's New York, see?
nuagewriter (Memphis)
If fans and observers want officials to throw "star" players out of the games for excessive violence they'll have to get a directive from the league. Doing so without a clear cut mandate from the League will only expose the officials to ridicule and second guessing. They'll be accused of being too soft, or not allowing the players to play.
In my opinion, if the NFL was really serious about rough play and excessive violence in the game they would have suspended Beckham for the rest of the season (two games) and Norman for one.
Wordsworth from Wadsworth (<br/>)
Many pro football players are upstanding citizens. The majority of them are animals.

I am surprised the Beckham incident does not occur more often with other players and other teams. NFL Films has a reel of cheap shots from the 1960s when there were a lot fewer live television cameras to catch this kind of stuff. So the violent acts of Beckham are not really new to those paying attention. Social Media has brought criminals and sexual predators to justice. Now Fox Sports with its advanced digital techniques has caught Beckham.

The players are gladiators in a circus. Yes, but it's always been that way. If Chuck Bednarik had been a Giants' receiver and taunted with Norman's contact, what would he have done? More than Beckham.

I am not excusing Odell Beckham. But that's the nature of the beast and the sport.

Oh gosh, it's so surprising that Coach Coughlin allowed the speedy and dangerous Beckham to remain in the game to tie the score. That reminded me of what the dean of the radio talk hosts Pete Franklin said 35 years ago in Cleveland: "Most coaches would play Adolf Hitler if he could give them an advantage and win the game."

Am I comparing Beckham to Hitler? Certainly not. But Beckham could play on my football team any day, even with the unsportsmanlike conduct. He's fast, he can catch, and he's nasty. In the game of football, that's what you want.

But football is not life. Odell Beckham is highly antisocial, and not a nice person.
GoDuke (North Carolina)
Most players talk smack but most players don't target people. Norman didn't deserve to be ejected or suspended. What Beckham did deserves at least 1 year suspension and forfeiture of one year salary. This could have been real bad. Imagine the possibility of their being a real head injury. I guess he will think about it during the off season since he only has one more game to play this season.
Hal (New York)
Are you saying Norman didn't target Beckham? I don't think you were watching the same game everyone else was. (Take just the body slam right in front of the ref, for example. If it had broken Beckham's neck, that wouldn't be the first time something like that happened.)

I can only assume you're joking about the one year suspension.
your objectivity is overwhelming
J.D. Petruno (NYC)
The referees of that game should be barred from every NFL stadium for life. What a joke.
David (Bluefield Wv)
Suspend him for the regular season?! No, one game gets the point across. This is football, concussions are part of the game. It comes with the territory. All football players are very aware of this.
ar (Greenwich)
Coach Coughlin should have handed Becham one of Tom Brady's cellphones to smash. No suspension there. Pro football is such a joke.
WellRead29 (Prairieville)
I'm sorry, but if you watch the NFL multiple times a week as I have for the last 50 years, you can't help but notice that in the WR-DB battle, the DB's hold all the cards.
Before the ball is in the air, they can push, shove, grab, hand-fight, bump, face guard, and do a ton of other stuff to deny the WR the ability to even get to where the ball is going to be. Most of this stuff is supposed to be flaggable, but if you are a Josh Norman, you can get away with it every single weekend. Most DB's do.
WR's are supposed to just deal with it, suffer the abuse, and rules meant for their protection are only enforced in the most blatant of circumstances (typically helmet to helmet hits).

Beckham was abused early, the refs ignored it, and he took matters into his own hands for the rest of the game. Did he go to far? Maybe.

Was it time for a WR to stand up to DB abuse? You bet. And if we can't figure out the refs ignore WR abuse by now, maybe ODB's performance will shame them into rethinking their position.

Tom Berkelman (Mpls, MN)
Pull your head out. "Maybe" he went too far? Thanks for a brilliant assessment.
boji3 (new york)
Your argument would have been right 5 years ago. (And perhaps you are still watching football with the same eyes you did 50 years ago. No disrespect.) But in fact the rules are so offensively based now that DB's are flagged if they merely breath in the WR's direction. Even commentators each week state it is about time to take back some of the pro offensive rules so that the defense stands a chance. (These rules were created to protect the offensive player but also to run up the scores)
Casey Jonesed (Charlotte, NC)
Yea sure Giant homer boy. Pitiful.
Tom Berkelman (Mpls, MN)
Minnesota Vikings fans owe a debt of thanks to Coach Coughlin for not having the judgement and backbone to yank OBJ from the game last week. The delicious irony of his failed judgement is that in wanting to win so badly, he not only lost the game but fell on his sword for this weeks matchup with the Vikings. He couldn't see the forrest for the trees.
Don't blame the NFL for this. Your self inflicted stupidity for not having the backbone to deal immediately with yet another prima donna personality will cost you a viable chance at making the playoffs.
As Pogo said in his cartoon role: "we have met the enemy and it is us"> Enjoy the rest of the year ... and THANK YOU again!!
cirincis (Southampton)
your team hasn't won yet, dude.
counting you chickens already??
Tom Berkelman (Mpls, MN)
Check your watch ... its coming.
Dick Diamond (Bay City, Oregon)
The fix was in. NFL wanted Giants in the playoffs. Now they have mud and other stuff on their faces. Serves the NFL. The refs were told not to call those plays. No one can be THAT blind to violations, especially the spearing from behind where all except the refs could see. Something is rotten in the NFL and it isn't fish. Disgusting.
Paul (Princeton)
if the NFL wanted the Giants in the playoffs they would have to 'fix' more than just that game. Why didn't Washington lose? That game would've had to been fixed as well for your intelligent scenario to play out.

give me a break.....
Tom Berkelman (Mpls, MN)
Are you related to Jessie Ventura?
drspock (New York)
We all know that the "stars" in any sport get a little more benefit of the doubt than the other players. This is true in the NBA and obviously true in the NFL as well. But when the referees go as far as they did to 'let them play" they encouraged the escalation of the violence of the game to a point where a player was at risk of an unnecessary serious injury.

Yes, this was a heated rivalry and yes, there was a national TV audience that was close to changing channels because the game seemed out of reach for the Giants, and yes, Beckham was their only weapon to get back in the game. The coach admitted he cut corners simply to win the game.

But things had clearly gotten out of hand. If the refs on the field were oblivious, the League officials should have picked up the phone and reminded them. But once again, the league's interest was in the ratings and the money, not player safety or health. And of course, they're not going to fine themselves.

Beckham was rightfully suspended. But the ref's who failed to do their job should also be suspended and the League officials that monitor every game should be called out for their callous negligence and obvious greed. The violence of football is at a tipping point. Unless saner heads prevail it will go over the edge and when it does, its decline will be inevitable.
This is absolutely right on target. Do we have any idea how many quarterbacks dream of dropping their helplessness and just head butting their tormenting assassins? But they cannot and the game goes on. And we play dress up and watch for ourselves on the Jumbotron. I am flummoxed by all this. Why do I participate in this hell that becomes a heaven for orthopedists getting rich and coroners dissecting brains of suicides? Just one more super bowl and then I am going to a football rehab and a gladiator 12 step program. I am glad you care enough about WR's to comment perceptively.
Steve andors (Brooklyn NY)
Dadof2 is right. No one is focusing on the incredibly provocative and unsportsmanlike play of Norman. He was body slamming, punching, slapping, and taunting Beckham every time the two tangled. Fortunately for Norman, as Eli said, he did not have to cover Beckham on every play, since the Panthers were mostly in zone pass defense coverage. But the real culprits in this incident were the referees who could have stopped this ugliness very quickly. Beckham has to grow up and has a lot to learn but Norman played rough and borderline dirty and he was the instigator.
This particular incident is only marginally connected with all of the many and obvious faults of the NFL or with the destructive and deep influence of the commercial ethos on professional sports and other American cultural institutions. It all could have been avoided if the referees did their job and stopped Norman in his tracks before he was able (unfairly) to get under the skin the immature and explosive Beckham.

but as stupid and dangerous as Beckham's helmet to helmet shot was, Norman was the instigator of this ugly confrontation
Tom Berkelman (Mpls, MN)
I agree ... how dare Norman get his head in front of a deliberate 10 yard running spear. He easily could have caused poor little Oddie to hurt himself. The inhumanity of it all!!
American in London (London, UK)
Agree partly, but Beckham tried to paralyze another human being. Norman's behavior, though repulsive, didn't come close to Beckham's.
mememe (pittsford)
Shockingly fair piece by Rhoden. As the Giants fan, I adore the skills, natural talent and passion that Beckham brings to the team and the game. But his boneheaded actions this season make me think that his old friend, JR Smith (of Knicks infamy) has rubbed off on him, and not in a good way.

As for the pre-game taunting between the two players, this isn't something new and the media has always eaten it up, playing up this type of drama/ antics to full effect. The difference here is that ODB didn't back up his macho posturing with good play in the first half of the game. Instead, he resorted to cheap, dirty, menacing, and potentially intentionally dangerous actions outside of the normal actions.

However, let us not forget that this is still football, and even the most legal and proper plays can still have potentially devastating health effects on players. Hindsight is 20/20 as the following quote from beloved Giant Lawrence Taylor seems chilling today, but would've been (and was) celebrated not too long ago:

"I don’t like to just wrap the quarterback," he explained. "I really try to make him see seven fingers when they hold up three. I’ll drive my helmet into him, or, if I can, I’ll bring my arm up over my head and try to axe the sonuvabitch in two. So long as the guy is holding the ball, I intend to hurt him.... If I hit the guy right, I’ll hit a nerve and he’ll feel electrocuted, he’ll forget for a few seconds that he’s on a football field."
fsa (portland, or)
"Money"- money...television rights, which lead to absurd, expensive, and intrusive commercials, breaking the flow of the game. But, it's not about "them", it's about "us", the viewing fools who tune in and enjoy the male mayhem, and buy the products. How about Monday Night ping pong?
Simple solution, which will never happen- stop watching the stuff, and stop buying the advertised products.
frank monaco (Brooklyn NY)
The NFL will never change their image if it affects the bottom line. The NFL knows Beckham will appeal so he will play till the appeal is heard. Had they given him a fine that would have been diferent. The NFL needs to get a handle on the game. Player celebrating a play while their team is losing. The likes of guys like Lombardi or Landry would have sat Beekham down sunday. Does the NFL realize this is the wrong message to send to young kids today?
Tom Berkelman (Mpls, MN)
Any bet that he sits Sunday night? His fate will be sealed Wednesday afternoon. As Kevin said in Home Alone, "Merry Christmas you filthy animal". LOL
cjhsa (Michigan)
As a side bar, I'm really tired of watching the Cowboys on TV every single week. It's as if the NFL cannot make any money without featuring those schmucks.
justdoit (NJ)
It's the Jerry Jones 'nifty 50' show (see separate NYT article). Even more pathetic than NE's Kraft and his 20 year old model/girlfriend and entourage. Wonderful to see Dallas fold in Jerry's Irving penthouse while he passes his glasses around for some step-and-fetch-it relative to clean.
victor (cold spring, ny)
I am so tired of these prima donna wide receivers and football players in general. It's all about me, myself and I. Celebrations supposedly to entertain us are beyond inane. Sadly, Beckham may end up being remembered more as another Terrell Owens than a Jerry Rice. What compounds his off-the-wall behavior is that like Ndomkong Suh he doesn't ever take responsibility. For Suh the claim was that he was misunderstood. For Beckham it is that he felt threatened. In classic psychopath mode they make themselves to be the victim. Boo-hoo-hoo. Enough of "trying to understand" them. Draw a line with hard consequences - period. End of discussion.
Richard, in Seattle (Chief Seattle territory)
Beckham is a mere paid pawn. The suspendees should be the refs. They're the ones ultimately responsible & who failed to do their job.
Tom Berkelman (Mpls, MN)
As did Tom Coughlin and Sean Peyton, etc. The fish rots from the head down.
Rosemarie Barker (Calgary, AB)
One game suspension! The referees ignored Beckham’s fighting and buffoonery throughout the game: NFL games are becoming painful to view with team owners playing Sanzaru Games while football fans are becoming more frustrated with the pathetically poor officiating. NFL team owners must consider Roger Goodell is not the man for the Commissioner’s office. He has made too many egregious power plays added but another with his friend appointed to over-see newly appointed referees. The players are suffering more injuries and illnesses with their extra games added to tight schedules, this is another example of Goodell’s lack of integrity for the game coupled with his lack of football knowledge.
hp (usa)
If they don't want Junior smacking crybaby Norman around all day, then they should have set one or both players on the bench.

The whole problem is Norman thought he would intimidate Odell and when Odell beat up on him, whipped him up and down the field, Norman responded by whining and crying like a little baby. Still is..

Coach Ron, a classy act, said it best when he said Norman needs to shut his trap and walk away.. Instead, like a phony tough guy, he messed with the kid and was spanked, over and over and over.
paul (stewart)
Players and coaches are expected (mandated ?) to appear before the Press to explain their decisions , as well as their actions immediately after a game . Is it not time to identify the officials as they make, or as in this case don't make, during the game ? The fumbler , the holder , the lineman off - sides are shown in isolation as the cause of their teams mistakes. Why are officials not required to explain themselves before the Press in a post-game interview ?
By the way , is it not a penalty for taking ones helmet while on the field of Play ?
Barry Fitzpatrick (Baltimore, MD)
Well done, Mr Rhoden, well done. No leadership visible anywhere in this. Not in the NFL, not in Coughlin, Manning or any other Giant "leader." This petulant youth, #13, needs to soul search and apologize for his actions and accompany that apology with a firm purpose of amendment. No more. You are not in recreation league football, you are a professional. Start acting like one, or the adulation you receive for your incredible on-field prowess will be forever tainted by your rash and immature actions in the heat of battle. If you thought you needed to do what you did to make a point, Mr. Beckham, then you succeeded. And the point made is that you can be a real immature jerk. Time to prove otherwise!
Rick (upstate)
That this troubling episode is also a degrading sideshow supports reconsidering our collective reality. The balancing of many commenters/excusers'/home-fans is astonishingly imbalanced. The erosion of NFL football (look behind you) shows it to be increasingly and starkly out of control a $ Circus. No longer a game, now a presentation void of responsibility. With this product, no longer a fan.
Adam Orden (Barcelona, Spain)
Time and time again we have witnessed the blatant incompetence and disrespect of the NFL for players safety and health. Time for Congress to repeal the antitrust protection of the NFL. Now THAT will get their attention !
Brian L. (Lakewood, NJ)
Greed trumps ethical behavior. The NFL, the announcers, and the mindless fans encourage the violence that is professional football. No difference than ancient Rome 2000 years ago. Then Christians were fed to lions and gladiators fought to the death, and the crowd enjoyed the distraction while a "civilized" empire was about to collapse. Sound familiar?
Philip Berroll (New York, NY)
Truly, this kind of violence and aggression has no place in the upright, respectful, gentlemanly sport of professional football.
R Anne (New York)
There is a false consciousness surrounding football, embodied perfectly and lyrically by the t.v. show "Friday Night Lights": that it is a game peopled by essentially virtuous, god-fearing young Americans made better and wiser through their participation. Then there is the reality of football as practiced at the highest levels, essentially a seedbed for sociopathic behavior and base human tendencies. We sound foolish and dishonest when we profess surprise at episodes like Sunday's. We are complicit.
Patrick (Ashland, Oregon)
Yes, Beckham is an "emotional young man". At what age, even in the NFL, does this cease to be an excuse? It seems to me that, more and more, many sports are played by "emotional young men" who have never been taught, or, learned to control their emotions.
Tom Berkelman (Mpls, MN)
Spot on. Now what is your diagnosis for the excuse concerning Tom Coughlin?
Lack of courage, judgement, fear of being yelled at by OBJ, fear of losing his job despite doing the right thing ... or "E" ... all of the above?
"They are all symbols of an opulent, prosperous, increasingly soulless N.F.L., whose first instinct is to protect the shield, whose highest value is money."
This is a corporation that promotes it's product with lightning bolts, explosions, thunder and the promise of combat. It is not a contact sport, it is a combat corporation. They want those match ups that cause conflict to escalate. They promote it to generate revenue.

The game on Sunday was a disgrace caused by the refs. They let it get out of control and they should also be suspended. By suspending OBJ and/or Norman the league placed the blame away from "The Shield". But make no mistake the league's only interest is MONEY. "How can we make it and how much can we keep?"

Mr Rhoden is correct in everything he says in his column.
I have worked with NFLP and it is all about the money - nothing else.
I gave up loving the NFL product long ago - it is full of hypocrites.
Tom Berkelman (Mpls, MN)
Were the refs awful? Yers! But could Coach Coughlin have stopped this disaster? YES!! Don't be so myopic ... the team had it in its power to avoid the train wreck. The Giants organization disgraced itself. Quit playing the role of victim here.
Earl H Fuller (Cary, NC)
The NFL, "whose highest value is money." Amen. And we have been told that the love of money is the root of all evil. And unfortunately, it is hard to think of an organization in this world for which that is not the case.
Tom Berkelman (Mpls, MN)
Including the Giants organization. The "winning the game at the price of disciplining a prima donna" cost the entire team the season.
A lesson that will likely be lost on fans. Much easier to blame the League for failing to use coaching judgement.
naro (nyc)
Who cares? it is only a game, and its good to see an emotional player playing his guts outs.
Patrick (Ashland, Oregon)
Naro...it's that kind of thinking that's at the root of the problem.
Paul (Phoenix, AZ)
Last night ESPN dissected this incident further and it became clear, supported by video tape, that Norman was equally, if not more, dirty in his actions than Beckham.

The entire Carolina secondary was threatening him. They were doing so all week. They were using epithets towards him.

Hmm. What are the criminal penalties for conspiracy and hate crimes?

But, in this year of the concussion, all everyone focuses on is the one helmet-to-helmet incident, something that happens in every game.

The NFL is not protecting the shield here; the Giants, let's face it, have ZERO chance of making the playoffs.
cjhsa (Michigan)
Not sure how you get "hate crime" from 9 black guys and 2 white guys spewing epithets at a black guy.
Very good comment. I was wondering how deep Rivera and his black bat brigade were into this. I noticed that the example of another team carrying black bats onto the fields was the Saints, the bat blinded bounty hunters, those bounty dispersers are still pulling down high salaries in the combat soaked NFL. And that woman expends a silly letter complaining about Newton's dancing. Hey, the dancing hurts nobody. Jimmy Fallon dances too much.

No need to excuse Beckam. If he had hurt Norman (and he may have Norman may have had his brain rung, Norman he just does not want to lose play time), hurting Norman and Beckam might have seen a suit--then again maybe not, Tatum speares Stingley, Stingley dies young after being paralyzed for the last of life, then Tatum writes a book with the apt tittle "They call me Assasin"' and plays on for the sainted Madden. Maybe Norman read the book.

No excuses but (1) Beckam may think "I am not going to lay down like a quaterback (2) "I am not going to depend on the refs to protect me, do they protect Manning, I am Beckam not Stingley".

River Boat Ron and fake father figure Tom have broken bodies in their dreams.

This cannot end well. So it goes on and on.
Mark Jeffery Koch (Mount Laurel, New Jersey)
The so called suspension was a joke. Beckham could have paralyzed Josh Norman for life and if the NFL had any scruples, which it clearly does not, it would have suspended him for the rest of the season and warned him that if he ever attempted anything like what he did again he would be banned from football for life.

The NFL is all about one thing and one thing only: MONEY. Billions upon billions of dollars of it. They have demonstrated time and time again that they don't care one iota about player safety or the fact that they have several players who have committed domestic abuse against their wives or girlfriends.

As long as the fans are going to shell out hundreds of dollars for a single gameday ticket, as long as fans are going to spend billions of dollars on NFL merchandise, and as long as fans are going to continue being glued to their televisions every Sunday players will be hurt and suffer life threatening hits, the duration and quality of players lives will be adversely affected, and players guilty of domestic abuse will be absolved and forgiven. Both the NFL and gung-ho fans are equally to blame for the deterioration that is going on in America's favorite pastime.
Dadof2 (New Jersey)
How come there are no calls for any review of Norman's play? How come when he body-slammed Beckham there was no unnecessary roughness flag on him?

Beckham was out of control and deserves punishment, but it didn't happen in a vacuum. Had the officials shown they were NOT going to tolerate the behavior of either man quickly and effectively, it would never have gotten out of control. Additionally, they should have stopped the game and called both coaches out and given them bench warnings, warned that further incidents would result in ejections, etc. IOW, they should have taken back control of the game. That's their job.
Steve andors (Brooklyn NY)
Dadof 2 is absolutely right. Without defending Beckham's actions, why isn't anyone focusing on the nasty, unsportsmanlike play of Norman? He was body slamming, kicking, slapping punching and otherwise trying to incite and hurt Beckham at every opportunity. Both players were going at it, and yes Beckham's helmet to helmet shot was potentially the most dangerous incident, but I would have to say that if Norman played it fair and square instead of doing everything in his power to beat up and hurt Beckham, Beckham would probably not have lost it as he did and he wouldhave scorched Norman for even more than he did. As Eli said, Norman was fortunate that the Panthers were in zone coverage for most of the game, and Norman did not have to cover Beckham man to man for many plays. The problem was that the refs let Norman get away with too much at the beginning, and they lost control. Blame the refs even more than Beckham and Norman for letting this get out of hand and blame Norman for being the instigator of this ugly incident.
Mark Stonemason (Sheffield, MA)
Concussion hits don't affect the NFL really. By the time concussions affect the player he's out of the league and not their problem. Suspicion of deflating a football however could land you a 5 game suspension. Thats the NFL way.
One game for that pathological conduct and 4 games for Tom Brady?? Rather tough to reconcile, hopefully Beckham can learn from this!
not really - brady has served no suspension whatsoever.
Observer (Chicago)
"And we love the product. "

But oh!...that sublimation.
Doug Pearl (Boulder, C0)
Pro Football, like MLB,NHL,NBA and other Professional Sports Leagues are entertainment. They aren't any different than other companies in the entertainment business. As consumers we can choose which type of entertainment that we want to spend our money on. Don't like the NFL, don't watch the games.
Shtarka (Denpasar, Indonesia)
Sort of like, "My country- love it or leave it", eh ?
rob (98275)
The officiating in this regard has often been dismal. There many clear instances that should,but don't,result in personal foul penalties.Including many very late hits on QBs that officials ignore.
Susan (New York, NY)
The NFL decides to suspend this guy for one game for a blatant dangerous hit and the same NFL decides they want to suspend Tom Brady four games for allegedly deflating footballs. Go figure.
WellRead29 (Prairieville)
Brady never served a single game of his suspension.
Susan (New York, NY)
And you totally missed the point of my comment...
Hal (New York)
Cheaters and their sympathizers never seem to get it. There's a difference between playing the game hard (even too hard) and undermining the integrity of the game.
James Lester (New York City)
"What’s mysterious is how the feud between Norman and Beckham was allowed to escalate." How about the 4-point spread the Giants mysteriously covered? Arguably that would not have been accomplished had the officials ejected Beckham.
carlos (dc)
"NFL Belatedly Acts to Cover Itself"

"Belatedly" means "they waited too long to do it." As in, they announced it about 24 hours after the game. On my god!!! How dare they wait 24 hours to announce punishment???? They should have acted immediately!!!! Don't they know we've had 5 complete news cycles in those 24 hours????? (-.-)

The refs should have done something in-game; that I get. Or the coaches, but they're trying to win the game and can't be trusted to act when the officials didn't. Or veterans on the team, absolutely. But the NFL acting "belatedly"? Give me a break. Do word definitions not matter in a blog post?
Tom (Weiss)
Roger Goodell makes me wish for the days of Pete Rozelle. There should be another suspension, and that is Roger Goodell - for the good of the game.
Shtarka (Denpasar, Indonesia)
Have you ever seen a more pathological looking commish? Goodell simply looks like a miserable human being.
Gerard Schaefer (Massachusetts)
"In any event, the officials were just as culpable as Beckham and Norman." What! The officials didn't make a cowardly sneak attack on a player. Norman didn't take a despicable cheap shot and threaten Beckham's career. Beckham is the culprit here, not Norman our the officials.
David (Madison)
Roger Goodell doesn't seem to have any idea how much long-term harm he is doing to the NFL with his attempts to fix everything on a short-term basis.

Aside from hiring someone who is competent to handle personnel and health issues, areas where he has proven woefully inadequate, why doesn't he tell his billionaire owners that their greed in demanding more and more taxpayer money for their football palaces is doing even more harm to the league.

No, Roger, you are not protecting the shield. You are making a mockery of it.
tom durkin (seaside heights nj)
Just one game for a series of premeditated batteries, including launching himself into a helmet to helmet spearing?
Larry Buchas (New Britain, CT)
The NFL has a destroyed image. And it doesn't help when its spokesmen include Deion Sanders telling us to calm down. This is the culture from which our youth subscribe to. This is not anything to be proud of.

The game needs to be taken over by new management.
Arnie (Easton, PA)
One would think that the shield would be the item doing the protecting, rather than needing protection itself.
J P (Grand Rapids MI)
Between the changes in the color of the uniforms and the on-field behavior, you can call at the XFL
Saralee Rosenberg (New York)
The on-field battle between Norman and Beckham makes less of a statement about the Giants and the NFL as it does the troubling world in which we live. Outrageous, over-the-top, incendiary behavior is not just the "norm" in sports, but in politics, workplaces, law enforcement and social gatherings. We have become so desensitized to bad boy antics, so prepared for a lackluster response, so certain that those in power will look the other way, it should surprise no one that Beckham's punishment amounted to a hand slap. Frankly, we are a bloody-thirsty nation with an addiction to violence. My guess is that a large percentage of football fans laughed at these skirmishes, drank more beer and hoped to witness something totally crazy, like maybe a player dying before their eyes. When you're an addict, there is no such thing as crazy. Our only hope is for the silent majority to come from behind the sidelines and demand change. As in goodbye Goodell. That would be as good a place to start as any.
Shtarka (Denpasar, Indonesia)
To Bill Rhoden- Well said!
bboot (Vermont)
Roger Goodell has been the worst commissioner in NFL history having brought shame to it for his weak management of the game. The owners apparently also have no shame as they employ and continue to support him to do their bidding. It is instructive to watch an institution be hollowed out by money-hungry owners supporting shameless management aimed only at maximizing their returns. We see the impact of this attitude in the crooks and bad behavior spreading among the college crop of players.
Adam (Norwalk)
Giants play the Vikings in prime time Sunday night. In the interest of ratings, don't be surprised if the NFL dumps the suspension and instead, fines him. It's all about the money. What they need to do is that each time a player is called for unnecessary roughness or a face mask, both designed to cause harm, the player gets a warning, then the second time it occurs in a game, they get tossed. No way should have this gone to three calls, at least that's how many times Odell was caught. He hurt his team because he let his anger get the best of him.
Bigfootmn (Minnesota)
Not only was he called three times before in this game, but he has also been fined for similar incidents three times earlier this year. If that doesn't constitute a pattern, I don't know what does. The NFL needs to get a handle on this and quite worrying about deflated footballs.
fitzcarraldo (pittsburgh)
Wonderful article!
John W (Garden City,NY)
In my eyes the game is truly losing its appeal. The money has corrupted officials, players, coaches, and made the media the self-righteous. The major networks need the NFL, or else no one would watch. It is a strange world we live in. Luckily I played tennis Sunday afternoon and didn't watch the 2nd half of the game. I think I'll be looking for other things to do on Sunday's.
Daydreamer (Philly)
Beckham was definitely out of control in that game and the refs should have taken action well before the helmet-to-helmet strike. But I think a one game suspension sounds about right. It punishes the coach for not stepping up and it punishes Beckham financially. More importantly though, Beckham needs anger management help from a professional. Without that component, the suspension is meaningless. Beckham can afford the loss of income and the Giants aren't going to the playoffs anyway.
Barry Fisher (Orange County California)
Well, Beckam should be out at least for the rest of the season if not part of next year. What's worse, trying to really hurt someone with a helmet to helmet, or deflation a football? It just shows how screwed up the NFL has become. Beckham has had serious problems before that game, he's a time bomb. Its tragically disappointing that Coughlin is so worried about his job and winning that he wouldn't take control. He should lose his job for that. Sorry Tom, I always liked you and the Giants but that was just the wrong answer. The officials should be totally removed from the game and the NFL needs to take look at itself. Finally, the game is getting more and more violent and the NFL seems powerless. It probably starts with its lack of leadership, Goodall finally has to go, he's an embarrassment. With all the lip service about head injuries, just check the reports about how many concussions or near concussion injury have happened in the last few weeks. We love our gladiatorial contests alright, we don't seem to worry about the consequences until something like a Junior Seau happens. But nothing's really changed.
third.coast (earth)
[[Beckham seems nice enough, but his eruption reinforced the reality that beyond the clubhouse and the locker room, we really don’t know the people we cover.]]

Why on Earth would you think you "know" anything about 20-something multi-millionaires? Why would you even think they notice you?
MG (Kirkland WA)
If it is this easy to get into this guy's head, I would love to see Richard Sherman tickle him under the ears. Beckham sounds like he would be chewing the dirt five minutes after kickoff.
EC (Chester, NY)
In the only meetup between Richard Sherman and Beckham, last season, Odell had 7 catches on 9 targets for 108 yards.
MauiYankee (Maui)
Wait Wait Wait.......the Giants have a chance to be a playoff team.......
Shirley you jest. This is the 4Skins division (said with respect, and has a long tradition) this season.
Wait til next year, new coach and Classy Cruz, and unicorns and rainbows......
Jack McBride (Modesto CA)
Rhoden got it exactly right. The league worries more about the 'shield' than the players or the game. That's too bad and it will eventually diminish the game for everyone. But it's all about the money!
Biagio (New York)
It is a game after all. Sure the kid was wrong and is being punished. But your high horse is just as weird as the tantrums.
rk (Va)
For the record: Gooddell: saw him operate for 4 key years- he was the staring QB and point guard, and I was was 2 years behind him at Bronxville HS. Made NSCAA all-america in '82.

Played hoops with his younger bro Jeffrey. Great guy.

His sport embodies the corruption that exists currently across american betting pro sports: there are no demotions, the referees are unaccountable,
the media enhances the "out-of-control" behaviors, and on and on....

USA pro sports are a reflection of its political system: an oligarchy.

People need to be DEMOTED.
The Artist FKA Bakes (Philadelphia, PA)
"But for only one game. If you’re doing the right thing, Beckham should have been suspended for the rest of the season. But that would have doomed the big-market Giants, one of the pillars of the N.F.L., to no postseason hope."

You have finally taken leave of your senses. Have you learned nothing from the suspensions of Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson? Do you understand the meaning of "arbitrary and capricious" or is that lost on you? There has to be precedent and for all of his misbehavior this is the first time Beckham has committed the particular infraction of a helmet-to-helmet hit on a defenseless receiver. Remember James Harrison's helmet-to-helmet hit on Mohammed Massaquoi? Of course you don't, you're not interested in journalism, just pushing your agenda. Harrison was fined $75,000... not suspended, yet alone suspended for multiple games. Goodell has already been slapped down by two judges, do you think he would just suspend Beckham in a manner disproportionate to what has already been established by precedent?
Barry Fisher (Orange County California)
It wasn't just a helmet to helmet hit, it was an intentional attempt to seriously injure another player. it wasn't just a play. Beyond the pale. He should be out for several games at least. Look what the league wanted to do to Brady for dilate gate. What is the more serious issue. Goodall is a failure. One game suspension is a joke!
Jonathan Hutter (Portland, ME)
Beckham IS the receiver, so it can't be a hit against a defenseless receiver. What he did is targeting. In college it calls for immediate ejection, and is usually committed by a defender. Pros should be held to a higher standard. Beckham had no reason to fly in helmet first, except with intent to injure. Therefore two games seems quite reasonable.
The Artist FKA Bakes (Philadelphia, PA)
"an intentional attempt to seriously injure another player"... are you a mind reader to know what Beckham's intent was... that you should offer correction to what I said?
I heard Coughlin's conference call with the press today. It was embarrassing and sad.
Time for coach Tom, who has done a great job for the Giants, to go. Among his explanations today: He was teaching Beckham how to be a pro by keeping him in the game. He didn't know Beckham had 3 personal fouls. He knows the player is a great human being. He was keeping Beckham in the game because they were trying to win (what good is winning this one if keeping Odell in the game gives the player more chance to make sure he's suspended for the next game, or maybe the next 2?)The Giants are ruining this player the way they ruined Shockey. They are the great NFL franchise, not this young talented player. They are not behaving up to their own excellent standard.
Gil R (New York City)
This bat thing, where Carolina says it symbolizes "taking the wood to an opponent" - what does that mean? What can it mean other than taking to the woodshed? Or beating as with wood? When you think about it, it sounds like rednecks talking.
frankly0 (Boston MA)
God Forbid that our delicate ears should be exposed to the sounds of rednecks talking.
WSB (Manhattan)
"Wood" stands sometimes for manhood, as in "morning wood".
Barbara Kelly (Brooklyn, NY)
Sorry, Coughlin is NOT a prisoner. No one is forcing him to work in the NFL. It's a corrupt organization, that has demonstrated repeatedly, that winning and money matter more than anything else, including
the health and welfare of the players.
David (Madison)
It is too bad that NFL rules don't require all franchises to be community owned. Maybe they would be more concerned about players and fans if they were.
See also