The dominant storyline coming out of the Carolina Panthers’ 38-35 thrilling victory over the New York Giants wasn’t the preservation of an undefeated record, but the game within the game between Odell Beckham Jr and Josh Norman.
Eyes were transfixed on the battle between the Giants wide receiver and Panthers cornerback, which was heated throughout and didn’t lack for fights and penalties.
Norman was flagged twice for unnecessary roughness, while Beckham was penalised three times for the same personal foul.
On one of those occasions, Beckham deliberately launched himself helmet-first at the head of Norman in the third quarter. That play, along with the rest of his actions during the game, resulted in a one-game suspension for the star wideout, announced by the NFL on Monday.
Following the game, Norman called Beckham out for his out-of-character display.
“You’re going to be Michael Jackson and go around and dancing and playing and a lot of other stuff and not be a football player and not train the way you’re supposed to train. It goes to show. I hope I pulled that mask off. I pulled back the face of what that dude really is,” the Carolina defensive back said.
“You going to get out here, and you’re going to dance around and prance around like you’re a ballerina, that goes to show you.
“When you cut back layers, you see. Everybody saw that live on national TV. There’s nothing that I can show that he hasn’t already been exposed. The maturity level on him is just as a little kid. I think he needs to grow.”
This hasn’t been the first instance where Beckham has let his emotions get the better of him.
Awkward: @EAMaddenNFL ads airing right now centered around Odell Beckham Jr.
— Daniel Roberts (@readDanwrite) December 22, 2015
Both the Giants (6-8) and Beckham have emphasised the need for him to not get rattled by opponents and wear his heart on his sleeve – something that Beckham more than succumbed to against Norman.
Although he reportedly apologised to team-mates at half-time and during the game, Beckham has more damage control to do.
“We have made great progress along those lines,” New York coach Tom Coughlin said.
“Today was a step backwards, but I’ve got to believe we will regain that once he settles down, and we’ll be able to talk about it.”
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