All we’ve heard on radio, TV, social and print media is how egregious and disgraceful Odell Beckham’s behavior was on Sunday, especially the wicked, diving helmet-to-helmet hit on Panthers cornerback Josh "Stormin" Norman while blocking.
Lord knows how many times I heard an analyst or commentator or show host or social media marauder say, “He could have seriously hurt Norman. He should have been ejected.”
Well first of all, no duh...it’s football. These things happen so take your butter mittens off and understand what sport you are commenting about. At least he didn’t get hit in the head with a hockey stick and rendered unconscious, bleeding onto the ice.
And although the No Fun League we witness today is a cream puff, emasculated version of the once proud game we knew as smash mouth football, I’m not going to go crazy over Beckham’s illegal hit for several reasons.
For one, too many unqualified folks have opinions on things they culturally know very little about these days and we can attribute the credibility of these weak opinions to social media bringing the entire world closer and within a computer key of speaking to anyone in any nook and cranny of the universe. Any opinion is pretty much a valid one these days as long as it is posted on a Twitter feed.
Doesn’t much matter if the person tweeting just came home from Bellevue or straight out a KKK meeting.
As unsportsmanlike as Beckham’s behavior was on Sunday with the pushing, shoving, swinging, wrestling, late hits and trash talking between him and Norman from the first whistle of play, that’s been happening in football since the beginning of time. To the misinformed, those dudes made it look like a high school game between two rival gang members. It got petty and violent, but who can forget the slugfest between Andre Rison and Prime Time Sanders ? Or the more recent fisticuffs with Andre Johnson and Cortland Finnegan a few years back.
Cheap shots, revenge, etc. yes folks, they are a part of the game and shouldn’t shock you when a human who plays a game based on emotion, pain, bad intentions and brutal objectives, loses their cool for a couple of plays. We are always going to have extra curricular activities going on between high-level, skilled players on opposite sides of the ball, who don’t want to concede an inch to the competition.
Blame Beckham all you want, but I blame the media and once again a lack of understanding of black culture. First off, the media sets all of these things in motion by continuously harping on individual matchups in what is proven to be the ultimate team game -- football.
What occurred between these two football warriors can be likened to the warden of the prison setting up a fight to the death between two inmates and hyping the fight throughout the prison and then after the bloody battle lives up to its billing, the winner gets thrown in the hole for 30 days for excessive violence.
All we heard all week was antagonistic, inciteful and instigative coverage, especially by local NY media anticipating the matchup between one of the game’s dopes pass snaggers in ODB (who we already know likes it raw and uncut) and Carolina corner Josh Norman, whose play and team's undefeated season has propelled him into the “best in the game (this year)” conversation. Media and fans acted as if it was a one-on-one boxing match and then acted surprised when they got exactly what they wanted; a combustible mixture of supreme talent, hype, rugged play and some WWE type action to top off an exciting 38-35 game.
For instance, this www.carolinacatchchronicles.com article from Dec. 14th is entitled, “Odell Beckham, Jr. Fires Shots at Josh Norman.” The piece infers that ODB is “firing shots” at Norman by wearing cleats with the Joker on them, because Norman refers to himself as the Dark Knight.
Where I’m from...Shoot, where most of the brothers in the NFL are from, firing a shot is more like what Beckham did to Norman on that missile launch, direct helmet-to-helmet cheap shot. He was trying to flip a wig back. However, painting your cleats, your toenails or whatever, to send a subliminal message to a hated opponent, doesn’t imply the ferociousness of a shot licked off verbally or figuratively in my hood.
Understanding the dynamic of the black man and the history of African-American men in this country (who have had to scrape and scratch for every advantage even when producing on the same levels as other races ) would give everyone who is playing Monday morning QB, and blasting Odell, some perspective.
As a black man, I can tell you we are very competitive individuals who survive with daily psychological stresses and strains that no other group must deal with as frequently. We are judged more, discredited more and criticized more than any other race or gender. And on the athletic field -- which is recognized as the best come up for a young black man in this country going back to segregation when political, educational or business advancement was almost impossible for us -- we as a people were able to branch out and explore opportunities in those exclusive fields because of our success in athletics.
The media created an atmosphere -- a circus atmosphere -- where Sunday’s showdown was all about these two brothers and it only ignited a flame of personal conflict, individual competition, overboard bravado and egotistical mind states.
And let’s be real. The news outlets knew exactly what they were doing. They do it all the time by framing a potentially volatile situation between two parties, then they put the gun powder and lighter fluid on the floor, spark the match and watch the disaster unfold, only to cast judgement the next day as if they had nothing to do with setting the stage.
The Odell Beckham-Josh Norman situation is a win-win for fans and media. After setting both players up for a sure downfall and then benefiting from the chaos, media and fans can then spend another day or two ripping the parties involved for carrying out exactly what everyone implied and inspired them to do -- Act a fool.
The only person that really gets hurt in this situation is Beckham, who after being the darling of the league for weeks, will serve a one-game suspension and has suddenly become villain No. 1, but then again that's the chump stuff that certain media outlets and social media gossip machines thrive on. He drank the Kool-Aid, not knowing that in NYC the passion is also the poison. He will miss next week’s must-win game against Minnesota and the Giants team as a whole will be compromised without his offensive contributions.
At least Odell didn’t punch him in the face in the locker room and break his jaw or end Norman’s career by sucker punching him in the eye like former Raider and Broncos linebacker Bill Romanowski did when he crushed the face of teammate Marcus Williams in 2005 during practice.
Rumor has it that Norman was using some homophobic slurs and "Rajon Rondo’s" on Beckham and he wasn’t feeling it. If that’s the case, it’s understandable. When you challenge a brother’s manhood...well, it strikes us a bit different than other races, whose men have not historically been abused, disrespected, enslaved, and devalued within their own family structure.
Most brothers are going to fight to the death on matters of machismo, money, reputation or family disrespect. So I’m not buying the big hoopla about Beckham’s behavior. It is what it is and Beckham was suspended for it, but it never would have happened if the media didn’t ask for it.