Beckham is suspended, but Coughlin, Panthers and refs all share the blame in this fiasco

December 23, 2015

No one should be surprised that Odell Beckham Jr.'s appeal of his one-game NFL suspension was denied Wednesday just hours after being heard.

Even if the New York Giants wide receiver was able to present persuasive evidence justifying his over-the-top behavior in last Sunday’s 38-35 loss to Carolina, the odds of the independent arbitrator (James Thrash) reversing a ban stemming from a player-safety violation in today's football culture are even less than a quarterback completing a Hail Mary pass.

Beckham, though, isn't the only loser to emerge from the fiasco that unfolded at MetLife Stadium. Here is a list of those who also suffered collateral damage:

New York Giants head coach Tom Coughlin

There were three tacks he could have chosen. The first was benching Beckham outright for his antics once things began spiraling out of control, especially after his egregious helmet-to-helmet hit on Panthers cornerback Josh Norman. The second was temporarily sitting Beckham to try and help him regain his composure.

Unfortunately, Coughlin chose the third by allowing Beckham to keep playing. The decision flies in the face of the discipline that Coughlin has long preached to his team. And whether accurate or not, the decision paints the picture of a head coach so desperate to keep his job and the Giants alive in the playoff picture that he was willing to abandon the principles that have made Coughlin a potential future Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee.

Panthers organization

The feel-good vibe generated by a 14-0 start is now gone with Carolina players accused of thug-like behavior toward Beckham, which included homophobic slurs and a practice-squad member reportedly threatening Beckham with a baseball bat intended as a motivational prop. While league discipline likely won't be as severe toward Carolina players as it was for Beckham, the Panthers now have to deal with their first major off-field distraction heading into Sunday's road game against an Atlanta Falcons squad seeking revenge for an embarrassing 38-0 loss in Week 14.

NFL's officiating department

Another rough season for the zebras continued when Terry McCaulay's crew lost control of the game and failed to toss Beckham following the helmet-to-helmet blow on Norman. Another interesting wrinkle came when NFL VP of officiating Dean Blandino later said Beckham should have gotten ejected and that he reminded McCaulay of the option by conveying a message through the replay official.

Doing so raises big-picture questions about how far in-game league involvement should be and whether referees will be pressured to change their own judgments if the opinion differs from that of supervisors who determine their employment.

Let's not forget, though, where the blame ultimately lies. That's on Beckham.

He got caught up in the pregame hype touting Norman as the NFL's top cornerback and the individual matchup that loomed. No matter what was or wasn't said, Beckham let the Panthers get under his skin with their baiting. Beckham's implosion included dropping what would have been a long touchdown pass to trying to repeatedly engage Norman in a fight that likely would have gotten both tossed from the game.

The damage to Beckham's reputation is short-term provided he doesn't make the same mistake again. Beckham can leave this in the past by not losing his cool again when future opponents try to get under his skin. If he does that, it won't be long until we're again talking about the spectacular plays Beckham makes rather than his bonehead ones against the Giants.

Beckham will have plenty of time to ponder that Sunday night when the Giants are forced to play at Minnesota without him.