Giants WR Odell Beckham Jr. loses appeal of one-game suspension

ByDan Graziano ESPN logo
Thursday, December 24, 2015

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The one-game suspension of New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. has been upheld on appeal, and Beckham will not be permitted to practice with the Giants for the remainder of this week or play in Sunday night's game in Minnesota.

The NFL issued the suspension Monday, the day after Beckham was flagged three times for unnecessary roughness for in-game dust-ups with Panthers cornerback Josh Norman in the Giants' 38-35 loss to Carolina. In handing down the suspension, league president of football operations Merton Hanks ruled that Beckham's actions put his opponents at unnecessary risk of injury.

"Acts that jeopardize the safety of players or expose them to unnecessary risk cannot be tolerated," Hanks said in his letter to Beckham on Monday.

Per his rights under the collective bargaining agreement, Beckham appealed the suspension Wednesday in front of jointly appointed appeals officer James Thrash at the NFL offices in New York City.

Shortly before 5:30 pm ET, Thrash issued his ruling, and the league announced that Beckham's suspension would stand.

Beckham took to Twitter to apologize for his actions and he later issued an apology through the Giants.

Panthers cornerbacks Normanand Cortland Finneganwere also flagged throughout the game, but Beckham's actions seemed more excessive, particularly when he rushed across the field to deliver a helmet-to-helmet hit on Norman at the end of a run play in which neither was involved.

The NFL called that play particularly flagrant in the statement that announced the suspension was upheld.

"I want to apologize to Giants fans. They want to be proud of us, and proud of players like me who represent their team. What happened the other day was embarrassing to them and embarrassing to me,"Beckham said in the statement issued by the Giants.

"A lot of kids look up to me as a role model. That is a responsibility I accept and take seriously. Many of the parents of those kids have asked since Sunday what they should say to their children about my conduct. I don't have the perfect answer, but I think one thing they can say is how I handled myself the other day is an example of how not to conduct yourself. I displayed poor sportsmanship. And those parents can also say that when you act like that, there are consequences. And I hope to be an example of somebody who did something wrong and learned from it."

It's at least the second time this season Beckham has been punished for in-game conduct. He received a fine of just under $9,000 for his actions in a Week 4 game in Buffalo after which Bills players said he threw multiple punches.

On Thursday, the Giants promoted receiver Ben Edwards from their practice squad to fill Beckham's spot on the roster for Sunday's game.

The Giants coaching staff has made it clear that it has spoken and will continue to speak to Beckham about controlling his emotions during games. But they've also been very supportive of Beckham since Sunday and continued Wednesday to stress their belief that he was provoked by the Panthers.

"Beckham certainly was wrong, and we've said he was wrong from day one," Giants coach Tom Coughlin said Wednesday morning, hours before the suspension was upheld. "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. He was out of control. 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."

Giants punter Brad Wing said Wednesday that a Panthers player in street clothes and holding a baseball bat approached Beckham on the Giants' side of the field during pregame warm-ups Sunday. Wing said Beckham attempted to shake the player's hand, that the player (revealed on video as practice squad safety Marcus Ball) refused, and that the two started exchanging words. Wing said Beckham said, "Why aren't you playing?" and Ball said, "I'll be the reason you don't play, today or ever again."

Coughlin said the Giants had been in contact with the league to address their belief that Beckham was provoked, though sources said the provocation issue was not part of Beckham's appeal defense and that the discussion with Thrash focused on whether the in-game behavior rose to a level that warranted suspension.

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