It’s been almost two seasons since Odell Beckham Jr. cemented himself as a top-level NBA receiver, snagging a deep grab that would go down as one of the best catches in NFL history.
Beckham’s sudden rise to superstardom was fast and sudden, immediately putting him into debates of top-five receivers, and sending defensive pressure immediately in his direction.
In a similar vein, Josh Norman, in his first two seasons with the Carolina Panthers saw the same meteoric rise to relevance, going from benched in his rookie year to Pro Bowler and debatably the top corner in the league last season. Norman and Beckham both electrified the league with their particular style, with both standing out for their over-the-top play and personality.
Beckham and Norman have made themselves into personalities, embroiling in plenty of trash talk and showmanship. The two would reach new heights, however, in their matchup late in the season between the Panthers and Giants. The Panthers put an early beat-down on the G-men, routing them behind a spectacular showing from the Panthers offense. The Giants offense struggled across the board, but much more notably on the outside, where Norman frustrated Beckham early and often.
Norman’s coverage over the top disrupted Beckham’s big-play ability, and Beckham struggled to get open from the opening drive. The tensions flew from very early on. On a 4th and 1 play, the Giants tried a quick run and Beckham took the opportunity to catch Norman in the chest. Tensions flared, but officials were quick to separate the two.
As the first-half domination continued, the scraps and fights carried over to the half, where the two engaged in sideline battles and fights between the whistles. Entire plays were lost to the two being tangled up in what quickly shifted from a battle of talent to a Busch League fight and mockery.
And then late in the third quarter, the brawl reached its height. Beckham launched himself, helmet first, toward Norman as he reached down to make a tackle on Vareen on a run for the Giants. Beckham aimed for Norman’s head, missing full contact and embroiling a full-on fight between the two.
Beckham would get his late touchdown on Norman, but the Panthers would pull out the victory, with Norman getting the last laugh. The overall ramifications wouldn’t stop after the whistle, however, as the league came down quickly on Beckham, suspending him for his late target on Norman and engulfing a debate between the two that would carry over until the end of the regular season.
As the Panthers made their run toward perfection and then the march into the postseason, the chatter stopped. As the season ended and free agency hit, Norman versus Beckham was a distant memory, a bygone feud that would be revisited later in the NFL. But then Norman was sent packing, gone to the Redskins.
And as the NFL wrapped its head around Norman and Beckham two times a year, the two had already lit the fireworks. For the last few weeks, Beckham started the fire by making comments to the media that he wasn’t worried about Norman, and that the corner was overrated.
Norman fired back, saying that Odell, “is relevant because he had one good catch.” Beckham upped the ante, saying that Norman got his 5-year, $75 million contract because of Beckham. With the words flying, Norman has made an attempt to downplay the situation, while still taking jabs.
“It means nothing to me obviously because the same fact — he’s talking about me but I’m not talking about him,” Norman told the Washington Post.
“It’s kind of like, ‘Well, dang.’ You was once the hunter, now you’re the hunted. So it’s like why am I talking about you? For what? So I have nothing to say and now we are the hunted and not the hunter.”
With all the talk, Norman and Beckham should put on a show this season.
For all this drama, they better.