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Giants’ Odell Beckham Jr.’s suspension gets upheld

Odell Beckham Jr. appeared at an appeal hearing at NFL headquarters in New York on Wednesday.AP

Odell Beckham Jr. is going to have to serve his one-game suspension.

On Wednesday, hearing officer James Thrash upheld the suspension for multiple violations of safety-related playing rules after hearing an appeal by the New York Giants wide receiver earlier in the day.

Beckham will miss the game Sunday night at Minnesota.

The second-year Pro Bowler is barred from team meetings, attending or watching practices, attending Sunday's game, and having contact with any club personnel except to arrange off-site medical treatment or rehabilitation. He will be reinstated next Monday.

The league suspended Beckham on Monday for his conduct last Sunday against Carolina, when he drew three personal foul penalties, including one for a diving helmet-to-helmet hit on Panthers cornerback Josh Norman.


The suspension was handed down by NFL Vice President of Football Operations Merton Hanks, who wrote in a letter to Beckham: ''Acts that jeopardize the safety of players or expose them to unnecessary risk cannot be tolerated.''

Norman was fined $26,044 for his role in the confrontations, specifically for striking Beckham in the head and neck area and for a face-mask infraction.

Beckham also had a run-in with a Panthers' player in the pre-game warmups.

Beckham posted a statement on Twitter after the decision was announced:

"I appealed my suspension because it is a right granted to all players under the NFL's CBA and because I owe it to my teammates to do everything I can to be on the field this week. Regardless of the outcome of my appeal, I apologize for my actions on Sunday. I work hard to be great and accepting the Blessing of having the physical skills to play at this level brings the responsibility to conduct myself in a certain way on and off the field. 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."

Beckham has 91 catches for 1,396 yards and 13 touchdowns this season. His absence could be a huge factor for a team that needs to win its final two games — and get additional help — to make the playoffs.

Giants coach Tom Coughlin noted that his receiver was not the only player at fault for the rough and sometimes dirty play in the game. He referred to the Panthers' recent tradition of carrying a baseball bat during warmups, and to comments allegedly made by Carolina players to Beckham.

New York punter Brad Wing said Wednesday that Beckham was threatened by an unidentified bat-wielding man dressed in Panthers sweats during warm-ups. Wing said the man refused to shake Beckham's hand after it was offered near midfield, and later crossed onto the Giants' side of the field with the bat in hand.

''I'll be the reason this will be your last game,'' Wing recalled the man saying to Beckham.

''The only thing I'll say about the incident that occurred the other day in the game . . . is the fact that to depict this as Odell Beckham being wrong, and the only one wrong, is not right,'' Coughlin said. ''It's not fair, it's not justice, it's not the way it was. If you're naïve enough to think that way, then you better do some soul-searching yourself.


''Beckham certainly was wrong, and we said he was wrong from Day 1. But there were factors involved, starting in pregame, which are well-documented, which indicate that there was an attempt to provoke him. He was provoked, he was out of control, he was wrong, there's no doubt about it. You'd like that that didn't happen.

''But the fact of the matter is, if you know that, the situation pregame with the baseball bat, and if you know what occurred at the very beginning of the game, you can understand that there was two sides to this and not just one.''

Panthers coach Ron Rivera said the team has used the baseball bat as a prop all season. He insisted reports that some players taunted Beckham with physical threats and homophobic slurs were not true.

Rivera spoke to practice squad player Marcus Ball, who was seen carrying the bat before the game, but the defensive back denied any of the accusations.

Reports surfaced that Beckham was subjected to homophobic comments during the encounter. Wing said he could not recall hearing any, adding there was a lot of back-and-forth exchange and he did not hear it all.

The Giants also re-signed safety Brandon Meriweather, who started 11 games and made 53 tackles before being released last week.

Osweiler tabbed

The Denver Broncos are sticking with quarterback Brock Osweiler.

Coach Gary Kubiak informed the team that Osweiler will make his sixth straight start Monday night against Cincinnati.

Peyton Manning, who returned to practice last week on a limited basis, hasn't played since Nov. 15 because of a torn plantar fascia in his left foot. Manning is expected to be inactive against the Bengals.


In other Broncos news, several players are angry that the NFL didn't suspend Steelers center Cody Wallace for launching himself helmet-first into safety David Bruton Jr.'s head last weekend.

Wallace said he was protecting a teammate, but acknowledged what he did was wrong.

''It was dangerous what I did,'' Wallace told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. ''You can't do stuff like that out there. I fully expected [the fine]. It's part of the game.''

Some Broncos suggested that what Odell Beckham Jr. got suspended for this week pales in comparison to a 300-pound lineman with a running start and spearing an unsuspecting player who had his head down after the play was over.

Bruton said Wallace's hit should have drawn a suspension.

''If that was us that hit him, we would have been suspended,'' cornerback Chris Harris added. ''I don't even think Odell's hit was worse than what Cody did to Brut.''

A little respect

Running back Matt Forte just wants a little respect from the Chicago Bears — to go with another contract.

Forte said he still wants to return to the team next year for a ninth season at age 30 even though past attempts to get management interested have failed.

''I mean, I want to return,'' Forte said. ''But if you're saying am I hopeful that I do return? There's not much to hope for right now because like I've said, I talked to [general manager Ryan Pace] earlier and they haven't said anything back.


''So there's nothing really to hope for.''

Forte said when his agent spoke to Pace, he was told talent evaluations needed to be made first. Pace is in his first year as GM.

''Kind of politically correct type deal,'' Forte labeled Pace's comment. ''I would respect it more if it was just like, 'Look we're not going to re-sign you,' or anything like that because then I would know.

''I don't really harp too much on it. I play ball every Sunday as hard as I can and then I worry about that when free agency and all that stuff comes about.''

Forte called the Bears' initial lack of interest understandable because of the team's coaching and general manager switch. However, when he got off to a fast start he expected to be approached about the topic.

''After the first seven games I think I was top three in rushing and stuff, and still producing,'' Forte said. ''But you look at that and you're like, 'ok, you guys?' But, um, still nothing came from that.''

Forte said he's not expecting to break the bank.

''At this point I'm not worried about earning power and all that stuff,'' Forte said. ''I've made money as a football player and it's not about that to me.''

He said he told Pace this in the offseason.

''I kind of went to them and was like, 'I have a high cap number, why not, let's do something now where it's reasonable and it's a good amount where I'll get to retire a Bear.' Everybody's happy,'' Forte said.

Forte said he wanted to be respected with a new deal.

''You know, not obviously playing at league minimum or anything like that, but obviously respectful,'' he said. ''But at the same time, I always look at staying home and being here where I've been the past eight years. That's a major factor."

Hoyer practices

Houston quarterback Brian Hoyer has turned to acupuncture after suffering his second concussion in a month.

Hoyer returned to practice on a limited basis Wednesday, but remains in the league's protocol after suffering a concussion on Dec. 13 and is questionable for Sunday's game against Tennessee.

Hoyer said he started seeing an acupuncturist after his first concussion on Nov. 16 and that he's continued to see the specialist since the second one.

He believes it's helped his recovery.

''I think so,'' he said. ''I'm a believer in doing anything that you think works. I've done a lot of stuff. That's one of the things I've done.''

Chiefs’ Hali ailing

Chiefs linebacker Tamba Hali broke his right thumb Sunday in Baltimore and had surgery this week, though the Pro Bowl selection has not been ruled out for their game against Cleveland . . . Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson says he's confident he'll play this weekend against the New York Giants despite a sprained left ankle that forced him out for part of last Sunday's win over Chicago . . . The Oakland Raiders have placed rookie defensive end Mario Edwards Jr. on season-ending injured reserve with a neck injury. Coach Jack Del Rio described the injury as ''significant.'' . . . Rookie cornerback Eric Rowe (concussion) returned to practice for the Eagles, while fellow cornerback Byron Maxwell (shoulder) and defensive tackle Bennie Logan (leg) remained out.

Critical thinking

Defensive end Mario Williams insists he's simply stating a fact and does not intend to be critical when suggesting the Buffalo Bills' personnel doesn't fit coach Rex Ryan's defensive scheme. The underperforming defense has been a season-long concern. Buffalo ranks 21st in the NFL in yards allowed and 30th with 20 sacks . . . Saints coach Sean Payton said that it remains unclear whether quarterback Drew Brees will play in Sunday's home finale against the Jaguars. According to an ESPN report, Brees tore the plantar fascia in his right foot Monday night against Detroit . . . Buccaneers defensive tackle Gerald McCoy says he has played with a torn right rotator cuff since Week 2 and the past two weeks with a broken left hand that required surgery. McCoy was announced as a Pro Bowl selection for the fourth straight season Tuesday . . . Dolphins safety Reshad Jones was outspoken in expressing indignation about being left off the Pro Bowl. Jones was not among the five safeties chosen, even though he's the only NFL player with at least five interceptions and more than 100 tackles . . . One day after receiver T.Y. Hilton criticized the team's play-calling, Colts offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski said he is doing everything possible to get the offense back on track. Hilton acknowledged that with three speedy receivers — himself, Donte Moncrief, and Phillip Dorsett — the Colts must do more to challenge coverages deep.

Finale fit for two?

Charles Woodson knows Thursday night will be his chance to say goodbye to the Oakland Raiders fans who have cheered him on for almost two decades.

He hopes it won't be goodbye to football in Oakland as well.

The game Thursday night against the San Diego Chargers (4-10) will be the home finale for the Raiders (6-8), who could be moving to the Los Angeles area after the season if the league grants approval.

''It's going to be sad just for myself. It will be sad for the fans,'' Woodson said. ''They love this team. They love the Raiders. They identify with the Oakland Raiders. It's happened to them before. It would be tough to actually have that happen a second time around.''

The Raiders and Chargers are seeking to partner on building a stadium in Carson, while the St. Louis Rams are looking to build their stadium in Inglewood and are willing to take on a partner if needed.

Banking dispute

The Minnesota Vikings sued Wells Fargo, saying the bank is using illuminated rooftop signs on two buildings near the team's new stadium to ''photo bomb'' the facility, which is named for competitor U.S. Bank.

Minnesota Public Radio News reported that the Vikings claim the mounted and illuminated rooftop signs Wells Fargo is installing don't conform to an agreement.

Wells Fargo spokesman John Hobot released a statement to The Associated Press saying: ''We are satisfied with the signage package that was approved for our $300 million community investment initiative for our new campus in the historic Downtown East neighborhood.''