Let me preface this entire article by starting out with this very simple declaration; both the Steelers’ Cody Wallace and the Giants’ Odell Beckham, Jr are deserving of punishment from the league. There’s no other way to put it. Where things immediately differ is how and why these two incidents are not alike.
In the case of Beckham, Jr., his incident was more than just one over the course of one game. OBJ had already accrued numerous personal fouls/unsportsmanlike conduct penalties during his many dust-ups with Panthers’ Josh Norman.
As NFL Vice-President of Officiating Dean Blandino has stated, “The officials would have been within their rights to eject Beckham from the game.” Much in the same way soccer uses a yellow card as a warning (kind of like a 15-yard personal foul penalty) and then a red card (ejection and suspension for the next game), OBJ had been essentially give three or four yellow cards before his most egregious action.
That action was his intentional spearing of Norman in the side of his head. There has been no more blatant and definitive helmet to helmet hit that I can think of that compares. Yes, other players have led with their helmets but I can’t recall seeing the intent be quite so obvious.
So that brings us to Cody Wallace. As I stated in the opening, he too should face some sort of punishment. ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler reported earlier that Wallace will likely face a fine but not a suspension and I agree 100% here.
Where these incidents go in different directions is that Wallace’s pattern of behavior has stretched over a number of games. If you were among those, especially those in Denver, screaming for a suspension, then direct your anger at the NFL because they had yet to dock Wallace at all for his prior late hits.
One of the things you learn when playing football is that you should never be caught standing around the pile because there is always someone looking to take your head off. That someone is Wallace. He saw Antonio Brown take a shot to the head so being the good teammate he is he felt it necessary to retaliate. Dumb, but honorable.
The problem is that what Wallace did flies in the face of the NFL’s new standards for ‘player safety.’ I’m not suggesting that’s a bad thing but 20 years ago that sort of thing was rarely flagged. Standing around the pile was indeed an invitation to have one’s block knocked off.
Wallace can’t continue with his behavior because another incident like this will get him suspended and rightfully so but comparing the two situations really is apples and oranges in my view. You don’t have to agree to that at all but I think you have give in to the fact that these incidents were different and therefore needed different types of punishments.