Following a report that Carolina Panthers players were threatening Odell Beckham Jr. and directing homophobic slurs toward him, NFL Hall of Famer Michael Irvin says Beckham has a target on his back unlike anything he’s ever seen.
In an interview with Gary Myers of the New York Daily News, Irvin said Beckham is indeed the target of physical play and hateful language.
Irvin confirmed that Panthers players were directing slurs toward Beckham and said it’s not the first time.
“He deals with it a lot. For some reason, everybody goes after him with gay slurs,” Irvin said.
“I wonder why people are going in that direction. It blows my mind. I told him he can’t let stuff that people say get to you.”
Furthermore, Irvin said Beckham is targeted by other opponents more than any player he’s ever seen:
“I don’t think I’ve ever really seen the animosity towards a receiver ever in the league right now what’s going towards this young kid. … He’s contrite about it. He can’t believe that it’s pretty one-sided. The attacks are pretty one-sided. He feels so bad this is happening. He also feels like he’s been targeted. I think a lot of players are so upset that he’s getting so much press, so much exposure, without winning.”
Beckham has been aware of this, even before the season began. During preseason, Beckham said he was being targeted, and that defenders were hitting him more than making plays on the ball.
“It’s not making great plays, now you’re just out there, you’re going after a person,” Beckham said. “So I understand that could be what it’s gonna be like this year, deserved or not deserved. That’s just what the case is gonna be, so protect yourself. And I know that by the time the season comes, those plays — I’m gonna just have to sit there and take the hits.”
The incident with the Panthers wasn’t the first of the season for Beckham. In a game against the Buffalo Bills, video appeared to show Beckham throwing a punch at a Bills player after getting blocked. The Bills were livid after the game, with linebacker Preston Brown calling Beckham a “prima donna” and saying he’s the NFL’s golden boy so he’ll get away with it.
Granted, Beckham’s rise to fame has been meteoric, and he’s not the most humble person on the field. Beckham’s not only a flashy player, he often celebrates after catches, and he seemingly has different end zone dances after every touchdown.
Of course, none of this justifies Beckham’s dirty, and borderline dangerous, hit on Norman, but it does provide context as to why Beckham might have played so wildly. If he’s dealing with this type of behaviour from opponents every game, it understandably may have caused him to snap.
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