WASHINGTON — Josh Norman called it months ago in ESPN The Magazine.
“Everybody saw what he was,” Norman said of Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham, Jr.’s reckless behavior in their infamous Dec. 2015 clash. “People from around the league were coming up to me afterward and saying, ‘He does that crap all the time.’ He lost so much respect from people for that little tantrum. I’ve already got a couple people telling me, ‘OK, I’ve got a hit out on him.'”
“It’s going to be rough for him this year,” he added. “And he brought it on himself.”
Already, in the first four weeks of the NFL season, you’ve witnessed Norman getting the best of Beckham, who took his anger out on a harmless kicking net and was later brought to tears on the Giants sideline in his first matchup with the Redskins two Sundays ago.
In yet another Giants loss Monday night, Beckham — in the worst performance of his career (3 catches, 23 yards) — drew a critical unsportsmanlike conduct penalty after bumping into Vikings cornerback Xavier Rhodes in full view of an official along the sideline.
Giants quarterback Eli Manning was critical of his teammate’s behavior after the loss, echoing Norman in saying of all the negative attention Beckham’s received this season, “He’s kind of brought that upon himself.”
If you’re of the mind to think this another narrative overblown by media, just listen to Beckham’s own words, spoken to ESPN’s Anita Marks on Tuesday: “Football is my sanctuary. It’s where I go to escape. It’s where I’m most happy. I’m not having fun anymore.”
Things have only worsened for Beckham in the days since. On Thursday, Thomas George of SB Nation reported the Giants are ready to send a clear message to their emotionally troubled star.
“Another meltdown at Green Bay on Sunday night and he will be benched,” George writes. “And depending on the severity of it, he could be suspended by the team for at least one game, maybe two.”
In an interview with Chris Mannix after Washington’s win over the Giants, Norman was asked if he knows when he’s frustrated a receiver.
“Yep,” Norman said matter-of-factly.
“I think it’s a development of skills and homing in on stuff that you learned and pick up on,” he added. “I don’t know. I think when you go out there and you work hard and you put everything out there, it kind of goes in the flow of the game and see what you can pick up on.”
When Mannix pressed Norman to reveal any tells he may discover of certain players, Norman said, “It’s a telltale sign in everything, man. If I give it away, I’ll be giving you some of the stuff that I do. Can’t do that, now.”
Whatever code Norman may have cracked to get under Beckham’s skin, he’s not budging with his trade secrets, but it’s clear other defensive backs have figured it out, too. And if Beckham is unable to harness his aggression, indeed this year will continue to be rough for him.