EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Odell Beckham Jr. and Josh Norman turned their meeting last December into more of a pro wrestling match than a football game. So it's hard to believe they were really surprised when the officials warned them not to do it again.
Yet they both seemed shocked -- shocked! -- on Sunday to get stern, pregame warnings from referee John Hussey that they both better be on their best behavior. And as they may have seemed, the warnings obviously worked since, for the most part, the two were well-behaved during the Giants' 29-27 loss.
"Today, they came up before the game and said, 'If you do anything, we're throwing you out of the game,'" Beckham said after the game. "That was before the game. There was no, 'You get a warning.' There was not any of that. You just have to be on your best behavior. Unfortunately, that's what it's come to. It's not really football anymore as much as it is all the other things that play into it."
And who's to blame for that? Maybe the Giants receiver has forgotten, but in the Giants' game against the Carolina Panthers last season, he and Norman combined for five personal fouls and were involved in so many extracurricular yapping and shoving matches that at times it seemed they were more interested in each other than the game. At one point, Beckham was so unglued he launched himself like a missile at Norman's head, a play that led to his one-game suspension.
Norman wasn't innocent either -- not in that game, nor in the months of trash-talking and trash-tweeting that ensued. So it's hard to believe he was surprised or offended when he was given a similar warning. The Redskins corner said the officials told him, "We're not going to make a mockery of the game."
"Wow," he added for emphasis. "That surprised me.
"It was kind of like, 'Wow guy, like geez what am I doing?'" Norman said. "I'm just playing a sport that God has blessed us with and being as physical as I can be, but within the rules and the confines of what they ask us to do. Why'd it have to be all that though? Kind of feels bad. That was a big word, but at the same time I appreciate the officials for you know, they really did a good job of controlling the game. It didn't get out of hand. Big ups to them, but whatever."
Yeah, big ups to them because they got those two "innocent victims" to play mostly under control. There was one early, harmless incident when Beckham faked a leap for a pass that wasn't coming and Norman caught him in mid-air, carried him a few steps and dropped him in front of the officials. Norman also committed one personal foul -- unnecessary roughness for a shot to the head of receiver Sterling Shepard that did not appear to be on purpose. And Beckham committed a pass interference penalty for an illegal pick play -- and at that point he was so shaken by his warning that "I was surprised they didn't throw me out of the game then."
They didn't because Beckham, in a game where he caught seven passes for 121 yards, played mostly in control. His one out-of-control moment came on the sidelines when he slammed his helmet into the kicking net by his bench -- and the net retaliated by falling onto his face. The only one concerned by that seemed to be Eli Manning, who couldn't figure out why Beckham was mad.
"He was getting catches, he was making plays and we just need everybody to stay calm," Manning said. "We don't need to get rattled. We don't need to get fired up."
For the most part, Beckham and Norman were only fired up by their play -- coincidentally, neither of them could remember if the other did any trash-talking. And in a game that Ben McAdoo said "we knew that the officials wanted to come out and get control of the game," they certainly controlled Norman and Beckham. There were 19 penalties committed in the game. Beckham and Norman only combined for three of them.
In other words, maybe Beckham and Norman weren't the ones who needed the pregame reminders. Maybe the officials should've saved their warnings for everyone else.