Odell Beckham Jr. was suspended for one game following his unusual behavior during Sunday’s Giants-Panthers game.
According to new reports, Odell’s behavior may have been provoked by nasty pre-game behavior on the Panthers’ side involving anti-gay slurs and baseball bats.
Source w/ Giants tells @Ian_OConnor that NYG heard Panthers defensive players directing expletives & anti-gay slurs at Beckham before game.
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) December 21, 2015
Beckham, according to another source, felt threatened, and it helped put him in a certain state of mind for a game in which he was penalized three times for unnecessary roughness, including a helmet-to-helmet hit on Panthers cornerbackJosh Norman.
The pregame incident could provide context to what precipitated Beckham’s actions during the game, for which the receiver had been widely criticized. Beckham was suspended by the NFL for one game Monday.
A team spokesman confirmed a practice squad player had a brief exchange with Beckham while he was holding the bat. The source identified the practice squad player as Marcus Ball. Norman later grabbed the bat but didn’t engage in pregame words with Beckham and never motioned it toward the receiver, according to the source. An NFL Films camera captured images of Norman holding the bat.
Meanwhile, a Giants source told ESPN’s Ian O’Connor Monday that Giants players on the field heard Panthers defensive players direct anti-gay slurs and expletives at Beckham before the game, and the source believes that also helped set the confrontational tone for the game.
Panthers spokesman Steven Drummond denied Monday that any member of the team used the bat to threaten Beckham. Drummond said the bat tradition is “nothing new.” The Panthers have carried bats onto the field during pregame warm-ups throughout the season. The bats are meant to symbolize home-run plays and “bringing the wood.”
Well, that may explain why Odell was so fired up during the game.