The footage that everyone saw was Beckham launching himself, head first, at the side of Norman's head, after a 15-yard head start, at the end of a play, after the DB had matadored past an earlier attempt at mayhem. The DB was lucky to escape serious injury, and the NFL more or less admitted that the refs blew the call by not ejecting Beckham. Today's make-good of a one game suspension, somehow getting appealed by Beckham under the principle that no appeal ever resulted in the punishment getting worse, confirms that the crew shouldn't be on another NFL game of note this year, at least.
But here's the thing about that play: it was far from an isolated incident. Beckham swung at Norman multiple times, got his hand under the DB's face mask repeatedly, and it was more or less the focus of every play, as a national audience and Fox's "A" team analysts commented on the continuing meltdown. Giants HC Tom Coughlin, on his way out the door at the end of a nightmare season, kept him on the field despite terrible behavior, because Beckham is the Giants' best player, and their only chance to come back from a big deficit against a quality defense. Despite 45 yards in unsportsmanlike calls, the WR stayed in the game, and thanks to multiple Panther giveaways and a score of his own, Blue got all the way back to tied before the defense let them down again for the loss.
What's notable here is that Beckham behaved in a way that will, frankly, endear him forever to a sizable percentage of the Giant fan base. He fought, dammit. He cared. Norman, it can be argued by people with blue-colored glasses or an interest in Beckham helping their fantasy team, instigated the whole afternoon by getting in the first lick, an innocent by comparison post-whistle wrestling move on the play after the drop. No one knows, of course, if Norman said anything to Beckham post-drop that set the powederkeg off, or if the Panther sideline engaged in chippiness, or if someone carrying a bat around in pre-game warmups made Beckham feel like he had to take the law into his own hands and head. It's football; there are no angels in the NFL.
Fans want their teams to hate the opposition, to rage against the dying of the light, to treat every game as if it were their last, and to step over defeated opponents like Allen Iverson did to Tyronn Lue in the 2000 NBA Championships, in the only game the Kobe/Shaq Lakers lost, and what looked exactly like what Beckham did to Norman after scoring the tying touchdown. Had Blue gotten another turnover and won the game, Beckham would have 5X more defenders today, and maybe even ducks the suspension. We'd be talking about how Blue held momentum, and might be the only NFC lEast team that could actually win a playoff game, because he's no worse than the 2nd or 3rd best WR in the game, and QB Eli Manning has two rings from previous hot winters. Besides, no one else would have beaten Carolina this year.
What happened instead was that the Giants lost, so Beckham gets to take full ire, and look like a crazy loser, especially with the hair and the super slo-mo visuals of a 15-yard charge and spear at Norman's skull. Some will defend him, most will dog pile on the narrative that he's a cheap shot artist, and in all likelihood, the Giants will continue to coddle him, because they have no better option than to hold on tight and hope that a young WR just grows out of this. (If I'm Blue management, I check to make sure that he's aware of the gun laws in NYC. No need to have Plax Burress II.)
Norman, however, isn't the only DB in the NFL who can be physical. While most players can barely stay in the frame with Beckham, Norman can... but every team can send waves of guys at him, now that it's been established that he's got a temper and will put his own situation above the team.
If I'm a Blue fan, I want Beckham suspended for the rest of 2015, because the season's lost anyway. I want him in an anger management class. I want him to get coached from some retired star WR (Is Amani Toomer available?) who gets him to realize that all of these guys are just playing the only card that, to date, seems to work against him. I want the new coach to treat him like a member of the team, rather than an opera diva. And I want the fan base to realize that football is not pro wrestling, or comic book war, and that next year matters, maybe even more than this year, especially when your defense gives up nearly 40 points at home, in an elimination game, in a season where the division winner is going to be one-and-trucked in the first round with a .500 record.
Blue's got one of the best young WRs in the game. They need to figure out how to keep him in it. Before the fans and his own ego takes him out for good. (Or, well, some defender who decides that he's not going to let a teammate take the next spear.)