The budding feud between Carolina Panthers cornerback Josh Norman and New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. just got weirder with reports that Beckham felt threatened by Norman and others with the Panthers who were reportedly taunting him with a baseball bat before the game started.
According to Art Stapleton of the Bergen Record, Norman had a baseball bat during warmups and comments were made by Panthers directed at Beckham that they were going to "beat the s**t out of him." While Norman isn't specified as the player who directed pregame comments at Beckham, the Panthers star cornerback was holding the baseball bat and Stapleton says that Beckham perceived it as a message being sent.
The Panthers responded to the report saying that only Marcus Ball, a practice squad player, was swinging a bat before the game, according to Adam Schefter. Ball and Beckham had to be separated during pregame warmups.
The Giants claimed there were threats made; Panthers denied that. A team spokesman was also quick to question the timing of the report.
Drummond went on to say: "no one was threatened with a bat. It didn't happen. It's a diversionary tactic and a good one at that."— Jason La Canfora (@JasonLaCanfora) December 21, 2015
Jay Glazer of FOX Sports posted a video on Instagram that shows Norman with the bat, but Glazer says that a "Panthers player in street clothes" was the one who brought it on the field:
Beckham and Norman battled intensely for most of the game with the Giants wide receiver drawing three personal foul penalties and the Panthers cornerback earning two.
Panthers players say the bat is a symbol the secondary uses for making "home run plays" and "bringing the wood," and it's something they've done before all of their games this season.
The baseball bat isn't a new thing for the Panthers either, and the team used it as a source of motivation in weeks prior. Cornerback Bené Benwikere tweeted that he brought it out of the tunnel during introductions prior to a Week 14 game against the Atlanta Falcons:
I carried the bat out the tunnel against Atlanta and my teammates held it during warm ups that game to pic.twitter.com/SQTcIy8mrF— Bené Benwikere (@BigPlayBene) December 21, 2015
Panthers tight end Greg Olsen also came to Norman's defense and told NBC Sports Radio that the team's defensive backs use the bat as a symbol for "more attitude." The NFL apparently wasn't aware of the Panthers bringing bats out for warmups, and according to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network, the league and the Giants are still trying to make sense of the situation.
There's also the possibility here that someone in Beckham's camp has stumbled upon a convenient detail to put out there while the league reportedly considers additional punishment for his actions. (Beckham got suspended for one game anyway). It's an incredibly dumb thing to latch onto given the way he handled himself on the field.
You can see where the NFL, of all entities, might frown on bats in pregame warmups, and we can probably expect a memo putting an end to it soon enough. However, it doesn't excuse what Beckham did in Sunday's game.
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