Dec 23, 2015 6:31 PM
Giants punter Brad Wing says Beckham was threatened Sunday
The Associated Press
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) New York Giants punter Brad Wing says Odell Beckham Jr. was threatened by an unidentified bat-wielding man dressed in Carolina Panthers sweats during pre-game warmups Sunday.
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. Wing talked about the incident for the first time with the media on Wednesday.
Wing's account came just hours before appeals officer James Thrash upheld Beckham's one-game NFL suspension for multiple violations of player safety rules in Sunday's game.
Beckham was flagged for three personal fouls in Carolina's 38-35 win, including one for a helmet-to-helmet hit on Panthers cornerback Josh Norman, with whom he tangled repeatedly in the game.
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.
In hindsight, Wing said Beckham's actions during the game probably were influenced by the pre-game run-in with the unidentified man, who Wing believed was a practice squad player.
Wing said Beckham was going through his normal pre-game routine, which includes some dancing, when the problem developed.
"We got to the 50 and there was a guy dressed in warmup clothes, not in football gear, and he was kind of looking at Odell and Odell was still dancing around and went to shake his hand. And the guy just looked at his hand and didn't go to shake his hand," said Wing, who was a teammate of Beckham's at LSU.
Beckham and the man exchanged words, the punter said.
Beckham was returning to his pre-game warmup when the player crossed the 50-yard line and walked to the 40 or 35-yard line on the Giants' side of the 50, carrying a bat, Wing said. He added that Beckham and the unidentified player exchanged words, with the second-year Giants receiver several times asking the man why he wasn't playing.
Wing had no problem remembering the response Beckham got from the bat-carrying player.
"I'll be the reason you don't play," Wing repeated, adding there was a threatening nature to the statement. The player never swung the bat, Wing said.
"It was there. It was present in the situation, so I guess ...," Wing said. "I don't know. He had a baseball bat. We're on a football field and he had a baseball bat."
Wing and some game officials stepped between the players, and sent the unidentified Panther back to his side of the field.
The incident lasted less than a minute, Wing, said.
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 only thing I can remember clearly is what was said to him about he would be the reason that Odell he didn't play today and other days," Wing said.
Wing believes Beckham was shaken by the incident.
"It was something that never happened in any other pre-game," Wing said. "No other team or member of any other team has crossed our side of the field and came and spoke to us."
But he said the exceptions would be former teammates or coaches seeking each other to say hello.
Wing said after the unidentified man returned to his side of the field, he talked to Norman.
It wasn't until after the game that Wing considered everything that happened and began to feel the pre-game problems played a role in how Beckham acted during the game.
Wing said he relayed what happened to some people, whom he did not identify.
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