New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. will be sidelined for one game for intentionally striking Carolina Panthers cornerback Josh Norman with helmet-to-helmet contact, the NFL announced on Monday.
Beckham is appealing the suspension and the case will be heard Wednesday by James Thrash, according to ESPN's Chris Mortensen.
Beckham, 23, was heated throughout the Week 15 game against the Panthers and got into several altercations with Norman. Panthers cornerback Cortland Finnegan also had exchanges with Beckham, but the receiver's actions reached a boiling point when he dove headfirst into the helmet of Norman.
Norman called the hit "malicious" after the game and said that Beckham's true colors were exposed during the game.
The punishment for Beckham is the first suspension ever levied to an offensive player for a helmet-to-helmet collision, but both Norman and Finnegan called for it after the game. Finnegan, who has a history of getting under wide receivers' skin, didn't mince his words when he spoke to SB Nation's Thomas George after the game:
"He's (Beckham) a f----- coward," Finnegan said. "That peel back play where he dove at our guys, he should have been ejected for that. Josh shut him down. And from what I saw in that game, that's a guy I wouldn't want to be around. He thinks he's tough. He's not tough. You saw it!"
Both of the Carolina cornerbacks thought Beckham should have been ejected during the game, and Norman called in to ESPN's Mike and Mike in the Morning on Monday to continue to call for punishment.
Norman on Mike&Mike now saying Beckham should have been thrown out of the game yesterday and deserves the 1-game suspension if NFL gives it.— Jane McManus (@janesports) December 21, 2015
Beckham's actions were explained some on Monday when there were reports that he felt threatened by Panthers players, including Norman, in pregame warmups when Carolina's defensive backs brought a baseball bat on to the field. According to a report from Art Stapleton of the Bergen Record, comments were made by Panthers players directed at Beckham that they were going to "beat the s**t out of him."
Through the first 15 weeks, Beckham leads the NFL in touchdown receptions with 13 and is behind only Antonio Brown and Julio Jones in receiving yards. In Week 14, he joined Jerry Rice, Marvin Harrison, Terrell Owens and Lance Alworth as the only receivers in NFL history to post at least 1,300 receiving yards and 12 touchdown receptions in back-to-back seasons.
The Giants are one game behind Washington for the NFC East lead with two games left to play. They finish the season with a road game against the Minnesota Vikings and a matchup against the Philadelphia Eagles at home. Beckham will appeal his suspension, but is currently slated to miss the team's Week 16 game on Sunday Night Football against the Vikings.
In a statement released Monday afternoon, the NFL said that Beckham's actions "placed a fellow player at unnecessary risk." Here's the full text of the league statement:
ODELL BECKHAM JR. of the New York Giants has been suspended without pay for next Sunday night's game against the Minnesota Vikings for multiple violations of safety-related playing rules in yesterday's game against the Carolina Panthers.
Beckham was penalized three times for unnecessary roughness, including a late helmet-to-helmet hit against a defenseless player in which Beckham left his feet prior to contact to spring forward and upward into his opponent, lowered his helmet and initiated forcible contact with his helmet, and forcibly struck the defenseless player's head. This "blindside block" was particularly flagrant because Beckham, with a 10-yard running start, had an unobstructed path to his opponent, the position of the opponent was not impacted by any other player, and the contact with the head/neck was avoidable.
The suspension was imposed by NFL Vice President of Football Operations MERTON HANKS. Hanks ruled that Beckham's actions placed his opponents at unnecessary risk of injury and should have been avoided.
In a letter to Beckham, Hanks noted, "At numerous times during yesterday's game against the Carolina Panthers, your actions placed a fellow player at unnecessary risk...and clearly did not represent the high standards of sportsmanship expected."
Beckham will not be permitted this week to attend team meetings and functions; attend or watch practices; appear at the club's facilities for any reason; attend press conferences; appear at the team's December 27 game; or have contact with any club personnel except to arrange off-site medical treatment or rehabilitation. Beckham will be reinstated on Monday, December 28.
Under the Collective Bargaining Agreement, the suspension may be appealed within three business days. Appeals are heard and decided by either DERRICK BROOKS or JAMES THRASH, the officers jointly appointed and compensated by the NFL and NFLPA to decide appeals of on-field player discipline.
The conduct of other players in the Panthers-Giants game is being reviewed for potential discipline in the form of fines.
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SB Nation presents: Best and worst of Week 15, from Cam Newton to Odell Beckham Jr.