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Beckham suspension upheld

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New York GiantsГ­ Odell Beckham Jr. leaves NFL headquarters in New York, Wednesday, Dec. 23, 2015. Hearing officer James Thrash upheld the suspension for multiple violations of safety-related playing rules after hearing an appeal by the New York Giants wide receiver earlier in the day. Beckham will miss the game Sunday night at Minnesota. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

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Thursday, December 24, 2015

NEW YORK — Odell Beckham Jr. is going to have to serve his one-game suspension.

Hearing officer James Thrash on Wednesday upheld the suspension for multiple violations of safety-related playing rules after hearing an appeal by the New York Giants wide receiver earlier in the day.

Beckham will miss the game Sunday night at Minnesota. The second-year Pro Bowler is barred from team meetings; attending or watching practices;, attending Sunday’s game or having contact with any club personnel except to arrange off-site medical treatment or rehabilitation. He will be reinstated next Monday.

The league suspended Beckham on Monday for his conduct against Carolina on Sunday when he drew three personal foul penalties, including one for a diving helmet-to-helmet hit on Panthers cornerback Josh Norman.

Norman was fined $26,044 for his role in the confrontations.

Beckham also had a run-in with a Panthers’ player in the pregame warmups.

The suspension was handed down by NFL Vice President of Football Operations Merton Hanks, who wrote in a letter to the player: “Acts that jeopardize the safety of players or expose them to unnecessary risk cannot be tolerated.”

Beckham was penalized three times for unnecessary roughness, including the hit on Norman in which Beckham left his feet prior to contact to spring forward and upward into his opponent.

“I appealed my suspension because it is a right granted to all players under the NFL’s CBA,” Beckham said Wednesday on Twitter, “and because I owe it to my teammates to do everything I can to be on the field this week. Regardless of the outcome of my appeal, I apologize for my actions on Sunday. I work hard to be great and accepting the Blessing of having the physical skills to play at this level brings the responsibility to conduct myself in a certain way on and off the field. Sportsmanship and respecting the game are as important as blocking, running routes, catching the football. I dropped the ball on sportsmanship on Sunday.”

The 2014 Offensive Rookie of the Year, Beckham has 91 catches for 1,396 yards and 13 touchdowns, tied for the league lead. His absence could be a huge factor for a team barely in playoff contention.

Batman

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — New York Giants punter Brad Wing said Beckham was threatened by an unidentified bat-wielding man dressed in Carolina Panthers sweats during pre-game warmups Sunday.

Wing said the man refused to shake Beckham’s hand after it was offered near midfield, and later crossed onto the Giants’ side of the field with the bat in hand.

“I’ll be the reason this will be your last game,” Wing recalled the man saying. Wing talked about the incident for the first time with the media on Wednesday.

Panthers coach Ron Rivera said the team has used the baseball bat as a prop all season. He insisted reports that some players taunted Beckham with physical threats and homophobic slurs were not true.

Rivera spoke to practice squad player Marcus Ball, who was seen carrying the bat before the game, but the defensive back denied any of the accusations.

Wing said Beckham’s actions during the game probably were influenced by the pre-game run-in with the unidentified man, who Wing believed was a practice squad player.

Wing said Beckham was going through his normal pre-game routine, which includes some dancing, when the problem developed.

“We got to the 50 and there was a guy dressed in warmup clothes, not in football gear, and he was kind of looking at Odell and Odell was still dancing around and went to shake his hand. And the guy just looked at his hand and didn’t go to shake his hand,” said Wing, who was a teammate of Beckham’s at LSU.

Beckham and the man exchanged words, the punter said.

Beckham was returning to his pre-game warmup when the player crossed the 50-yard line and walked to the 40 or 35-yard line on the Giants’ side of the 50, carrying a bat, Wing said. He added that Beckham and the unidentified player exchanged words, with the second-year Giants receiver several times asking the man why he wasn’t playing.

Wing recalled the response Beckham got from the bat-carrying player.

“I’ll be the reason you don’t play,” Wing repeated. The player never swung the bat, Wing said.

“It was there. It was present in the situation, so I guess ...,” Wing said. “I don’t know. He had a baseball bat. We’re on a football field and he had a baseball bat.”

Wing and some game officials stepped between the players, and sent the unidentified Panther back to his side of the field.

The incident lasted less than a minute, Wing, said.

Reports surfaced that Beckham was subjected to homophobic comments during the encounter. Wing said he could not recall hearing any, adding there was a lot of back and forth exchange and he did not hear it all.

“The only thing I can remember clearly is what was said to him about he would be the reason that Odell he didn’t play today and other days,” Wing said.

Wing believes Beckham was shaken by the incident.

“It was something that never happened in any other pre-game,” Wing said. “No other team or member of any other team has crossed our side of the field and came and spoke to us.”

But he said the exceptions would be former teammates or coaches seeking each other to say hello.

Wing said after the unidentified man returned to his side of the field, he talked to Norman.

It wasn’t until after the game that Wing considered everything that happened and began to feel the pre-game problems played a role in how Beckham acted during the game.

Wing said he relayed what happened to some people, whom he did not identify.

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AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and http://twitter.com/AP—NFL

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Online: http://pro32.ap.org/poll and http://twitter.com/AP—NFL

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