Beckham suspended for helmet-butting, inspired by gay slur
In just his second season of pro ball, Odell Beckham Jr. has established himself as an elite receiver. His one-handed catches, aided by the increasingly adhesive gloves that NFL receivers are permitted to use, have made endlessly entertaining video. Football fans eagerly awaited Sunday’s Met-Life duel between Beckham of the New York Giants and Josh Norman, the unshakable cornerback of the undefeated Carolina Panthers. Norman is not only a remarkable athlete but an All-Pro trash-talker. He tries to distract his opponent with constant commentary in a high-pitched voice that tends to be annoying when combined with his 16 pass breakups and 4 interceptions. The Panthers apparently set out to bait Beckham into losing his composure. Some Giants players said they heard Panthers taunting Beckham with anti-gay slurs. Beckham claims to be heterosexually oriented, but some in the Manhattan media have accused him of concocting an elaborate Manti Te’O-like story of an imaginary girlfriend. At any rate, the Panthers were not above seizing on rumors to unsettle Beckham. Also: Carolina reserve Marcus Ball wielded a black baseball bat during the pregame workouts and was accused of threatening Beckham, who was arguing with him. From the first quarter on, Beckham and Norman battled close, physical and personal. The most disturbing scene: Beckham circled back to bash his helmet into Norman’s. That act brought Beckham a one-game suspension and eliminated him from consideration for any Sportsman of the Year awards. The NFL issued a memo that would ban baseball bats (or any other items out of uniform).
LeBron crashes into stands, injures Jason Day’s wife
Ellie Day, wife of golf star Jason Day, experienced concussion-like symptoms after LeBron James crashed into her during a Cleveland Cavaliers game while he was chasing a loose ball. She was sitting next to her husband and was taken by stretcher to an ambulance and was hospitalized for a night. She said she had “no hard feelings” toward the basketball player, that “he was just doing his job. Go Cavs.” She compared the incident to golf fans being struck by an errant shot into the gallery. She tweeted: “My whole body feels like I was hit by a truck.” James visited her at the hospital to apologize. Jason Day is Australian, but his wife was born in Ohio, and they own a home in Waterford, near Columbus. Jason, 28, won the PGA Championship in August.
Retired NFL star Portis is bankrupt, owes his mom $500K
Clinton Portis, former All-Pro running back, has filed for bankruptcy, reporting $5 million in total debt, which includes $500,000 that he owes his mother. He earns $3,500 per month for NFL disability and about $1,000 a month for sideline reporting. The Gainesville Sun reported that Portis is a “victim of swindlers” and that he lost money in a failed casino venture in Alabama. It’s not uncommon for NFL players to end up in bankruptcy court. Among those who lost everything were star quarterbacks John Unitas, Dan Marino and Bernie Kosar.
49ers linemen Staley, Kilgore in battle of tweets
It’s hardly surprising that dissension would creep into a 4-10 team like the San Francisco 49ers. Reporters covering the team say it’s poorly organized, that assistant coaches are confused about assignments, and some of the team’s best players are unhappy with the effort around them. Pro Bowl left tackle Joe Staley tweeted his displeasure after a blowout loss in Cleveland: “We’ve got to play our ass off every single week, and we didn’t do that. We thought we were just going to show up & play.” His linemate Joe Kilgore tweeted back: “It’s a false comment. Every week we’re mentally prepared. That’s a stupid remark.” But the same sentiment was expressed by Browns coach Mike Pettine, who praised his team’s effort but added, “I don’t know that I sensed the same attitude from the other side.”
Kaepernick banned from sidelines as he awaits cut
More evidence that Colin Kaepernick is headed out of San Francisco: He was banned from the sidelines Sunday in the game against Cincinnati. With his left arm in a sling, following shoulder surgery, the team’s management did not want to risk greater injury if a player collided with him while running out of bounds. But this is a very slight risk that most teams take, finding value in the insights and inspiration of an injured quarterback. Thus, Tony Romo, out with a broken collarbone, stood on the Dallas Cowboys’ sideline during Saturday night’s game against the New York Jets. The reason the same privilege was not accorded Kaepernick is that his contract provides he gets full pay for next season if he’s on the roster on April 1 or is unable to pass a health test at that time. The 49ers want Kaepernick healthy on April 1 so they will be relieved of his salary of around $20 million.