Catches of the improbable variety have become a trademark calling card for New York Giants WR Odell Beckham Jr.
Though he’s only in just the second season of his burgeoning NFL career, Beckham has already cemented his status as a must-see spectacle thanks in large part to the numerous incredible, acrobatic highlight-reel catches he’s added to his ever-expanding impressive pro résumé.
With each exciting embrace of the pigskin, however, comes raised expectations.
When you have a knack for making the unbelievable look routine, when you finally fail to convert a routine play it will therefore lead to disbelief.
Thus was the case on Sunday afternoon when the normally sticky-handed pass-catching phenom let a sure touchdown pass slip through his fingertips early on in the first quarter of a crucial clash with the undefeated Carolina Panthers.
It was a rough, yet forgivable miscue, especially given the situation (it occurred on the first drive of the game), and especially coming from a player who has built up so much goodwill among Giant fans based on his consistently spectacular play.
Unfortunately, Beckham’s actions and behavior that followed that incompletion proved to be much more egregious than a simple dropped pass could ever be.
In what was truly one of the strangest storylines to unfold in an NFL game in recent history, onlookers watched as the young celebrated star athlete transformed from a fun eccentric, exciting playmaker into a violent, brash bully.
Beckham’s behavior—which included physical altercations with Panthers defenders, most notably his violent interactions with cornerbacks Josh Norman and Cortland Finnegan—was downright bizarre, and completely out of character.
It was a rage and a state of mania brought on by frustration that left officials, teammates, opposing defenders, fans in attendance and even announcers Joe Buck and Troy Aikman puzzled and concerned about the complete mental unraveling they were witnessing unfold in front of their collective eyes.
Instead of creating big plays in the passing game, it seemed Beckham had instead become enamored with engaging in physical confrontations, specifically with Norman, which included punches, cheap shots and helmet-to-helmet hits.
His conduct resulted in three separate personal foul penalties. Miraculously, though, it didn’t result in an ejection or even a benching from his supposed no-nonsense head coach Tom Coughlin.
That’s why Beckham was on the field during the Giants final drive, which allowed him the opportunity to make up for an uncharacteristically quiet catchless first half by reeling in a game-tying touchdown in what turned out to be a wild come-from-behind, yet ultimately all for naught comeback by the G-Men in a 38-35 loss.
Though the refs and the Big Blue coaching staff may have looked the other way and tolerated Beckham’s boorish behavior, his indefensibly dirty play was widely panned by pretty much everyone who watched it unfold.
Beckham’s behavior against the Panthers was absolutely inexcusable, and he certainly deserves the full onslaught of criticism that he’s about to face in the days to come for his repugnant antics.
In an era when the spotlight of social media is shining upon professional athletes, it can only take one bad day full of bad decisions to go from great to goat.
His reputation can be repaired and he can get his career trajectory back on track. Still, this was the type of showing that unfortunately left an imprint on the minds of many disappointed fans who wanted to believe Beckham was on his way to becoming that something special that broke the mold.
Once again, it goes to show how quickly the star of the highlights can become the lowlight.