The league office thought he should have been ejected. He wasn’t. So now the question is whether the league office will preemptively eject Giants receiver Odell Beckham Jr. from his next game, Sunday night at Minnesota.
Beckham’s antics didn’t include any one clear, single, glaring, after-the-whistle act of misconduct that would trigger a suspension on its own, like an Ndamukong Suh stomp or an Aqib Talib eye gouge. But the repeated acts of chippy — and flat-out dirty — play could make the league willing to impose one-game suspension, especially since plenty of Beckham’s behavior came in the form of blows to the head of an opponent.
The most glaring example came when Beckham lunged with the crown of his helmet into side of the helmet of Panthers cornerback Josh Norman. Coming only days before the release of Concussion, which will make the NFL look bad for its failure to recognize the dangers of head trauma, the league may feel compelled to at least try to dramatically discipline Beckham down in response to egregious, repeated attempts to go beyond the scope of the rules, and in turn to endanger the health and safety of another player.
“Try” is the key word. The NFL doesn’t have final say on matters of discipline for on-field behavior, with either Derrick Brooks or James Thrash, jointly hired and paid by the NFL and the NFL Players Association, handling the appeal of any fines or suspensions. Sometimes, the league is willing to roll the dice on a suspension and accept the risk of losing on appeal. The constant stream of pushing and shoving from last Sunday’s Steelers-Bengals game coupled with Sunday’s out-of-control antics between the Panthers and Giants, could make the NFL willing to risk suspending Beckham and losing on appeal, if only to send a message to all teams, players, coaches, and officials that this kind of stuff has to end, now.
If it’s going to happen, it’ll happen quickly. Typically, suspensions for on-field misconduct are imposed on Monday, with an appeal hearing happening promptly and a final decision coming Tuesday. That allows the issue to be resolved before the team begins preparing in earnest for the next game, with the first regular practice of the week on the Wednesday before a Sunday game.
At a minimum, Beckham and others will be heavily fined for the repeated acts of extracurricular violence. But with well over $100,000 in fines levied against the Steelers and Bengals only two days before the Panthers-Giants game was played, it’s safe to say that taking money doesn’t have the same deterrent effect as taking a player off the field.
With Beckham, the officials and coach Tom Coughlin failed to do it. The question for Monday is whether the NFL will.