The Giants’ season is hanging on by a thread, but all anyone wants to talk about is the unstable nature of Odell Beckham’s psyche following Sunday’s emotional last-second loss to the Carolina Panthers.
It doesn’t matter that the Giants (6-8) have now lost for the fourth time in five games, or with their eight losses, Big Blue is assured of finishing no better than .500 for the third-consecutive season -- the last time that happened was a stretch from 1973-80.
And it also doesn’t matter that Giants showed real fortitude and mettle in overcoming a 35-7 second-half deficit, because, everything regarding the local sports scene is centered on the thin skin and fragile consciousness of New York sports’ biggest star, wideout Odell Beckham Jr.
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His teammates and coaches spent their Monday conference calls trying to put out the fire, ahead of whatever possible league-sanctioned punishment comes Beckham’s way.
“Nothing was called early on and it seemed like they thought they can do some things to see how much they can get away with,” quarterback Eli Manning said, showing public support for Beckham. “I went to Odell a few times and told him, ‘be smart.’ If flags aren’t called early, and guys keep doing it, it goes further, and guys try and see what they can get away with … I’m proud of the way he handled himself [postgame].”
Beckham may or may not get away with it, as the league may still suspend him – or at the very least, fine him. And while Panthers cornerback Josh Norman had a huge part in the skirmishes, and was the instigator even during pregame warm-ups with the baseball bat antics and verbal threats, the way the combustible wideout handled himself will warrant any punitive actions.
“It’s a shame the discussion today is about the personal battle and not of a great game, the near comeback, or an undefeated team. … Too bad it’s being emphasized,” lamented head coach Tom Coughlin, adding Beckham’s selfish behavior was a great distraction. “Personal battles have no place. They break concentration [and] take away from the course of the game. It’s not about the individual. … I’m hoping he learns that it’s team first, team last, team always, and that nothing stands above that.”
The coach quickly noted that the team stands by their Pro Bowl wideout, even while denigrating the actions.
“I will never defend his actions, because they were wrong. And this particular franchise and organization doesn’t tolerate that. But I will defend the man, and the quality of person … and our team feels the same way,” Coughlin said. “It’s the ongoing process of young players.”
Beckham, who was not made available for comment, is not new to controversy. He’s played in just 26 NFL games, but has been fined three times for a total of $29,706. The transgressions range from a kick, to a punch, to slamming down his helmet. Should the league suspend him, he’d also be a pioneer of sort, as no Giants player has ever been suspended for on-field misbehavior.
Beckham’s postgame quotes, where he channeled his inner Rasheed Wallace and repeated the same answer for several different questions (“Like I said, it is unfortunate that we lost. Going against a great team like that, you want to beat them, you know what you are up against and you want to win and you are going to compete”), certainly won’t endear himself towards the league. Commissioner Roger Goodell seems to frown upon any petulance and remorselessness.
“Whatever happens, we’ll find a way to keep fighting. That’s what we do,” said Coughlin.
Beckham just needs to know that the word “fight” shouldn’t be taken so literal.
Big Blue notes:
-Seven of the Giants’ eight losses have been by a total of 21 points, and six of them have been by four points or less.
-The Giants have lost three consecutive home games for the second consecutive season.
-New York trailed in the third quarter, 35-7. According to Elias, it was the first time in their history the Giants rallied from a 28-point deficit to tie a game.
-Manning now has 291 career touchdown passes. That moved him past Hall of Famer Johnny Unitas (290), and into ninth place on the NFL’s career list.
-If the NFC East-leading Washington Redskins win at Philadelphia on Saturday night, the Giants will take the field in Minnesota for their Sunday night affair already knowing their postseason dreams have been dashed.
-Eli, taking a slight shot at Norman: “To the media [postgame], he just cried a little bit. I don’t think that was necessary. I don’t think either one was in the right.”
-Panthers quarterback, and MVP frontrunner, Cam Newton, became the first player in NFL history with 300 yards passing, five passing touchdowns, and 100 rushing yards in the same game.