After reading Odell Beckham Jr.’s statement on Wednesday, Tom Coughlin was impressed.
Such remarks usually sound canned, contrived and coerced. And this time?
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“It sounded like him making that statement,” he said on Thursday.
Of course, that will fuel speculation that the words that came pouring out of the suspended wide receiver were not his own. In fact, he might never have spoken them. He issued one statement on social media and another through the Giants, each one with a heartfelt apology, after his one-game suspension for multiple illegal hits in Sunday’s game against the Panthers was upheld on Wednesday.
To those who know Beckham, though, it was easy to picture those words and sentiments coming from him.
“I liked his statement,” Coughlin said. “I thought it was contrite, apologetic. I thought it set the record straight from where he was coming from. The due process has taken place and the issue is at rest. The suspension is there and we accept it.”
In Beckham’s statement on social media, he said, “Sportsmanship and respecting the game are as important as blocking, running routes and catching the football. I dropped the ball on sportsmanship on Sunday. I apologize to my teammates, the Giants organization, and to all fans of the NFL.”
After that, he issued a statement through the Giants. “I owe some people an apology,” he said. “I wasn’t raised to act like I did the other day. I am not here to make excuses for my conduct. This isn’t about anything that was said or done to me. This is about my behavior, and I am responsible for my behavior. People expect better from me, and I expect better from myself.”
He apologized again to the organization, the team’s fans, Coughlin and his teammates in the statement.
“A lot of kids look up to me as a role model,” he said. “That is a responsibility I accept and take seriously. Many of the parents of those kids have asked since Sunday what they should say to their children about my conduct. I don’t have the perfect answer, but I think one thing they can say is how I handled myself the other day is an example of how not to conduct yourself. I displayed poor sportsmanship. And those parents can also say that when you act like that, there are consequences. And I hope to be an example of somebody who did something wrong and learned from it.”
Beckham will have to sit at home and watch the Giants play the Vikings on Sunday night. It’s something he’s had to do in the past, but unlike the first four games of his rookie year, when he was sidelined with a hamstring injury, this comes from his own doing.
It’s a harsh punishment for anyone, in particular Beckham, who thrives so much on competition and being on the field. But Coughlin believes it will serve its purpose.
“I think the whole experience is going to have an incredible impression on him,” Coughlin said. “He’s going to learn that there is no place on the field for that kind of activity, as I’ve said many times before. It’s a tough lesson, but he’ll learn.”