We have reached the point where we now are talking about baseball bats in the Odell Beckham-Josh Norman saga.
The battle between the two stars added a strange development Monday afternoon when multiple reports surfaced that indicated Carolina Panthers players held a black baseball bat that several players swung during pregame warmups before Sunday’s game against the New York Giants. According to the reports, Beckham felt threatened by the bat’s presence, which factored into his actions on the field.
In the game, a 38-35 Panthers victory, Beckham frequently sparred with Norman and drew three personal fouls, including a play in which Beckham launched himself with the crown of his helmet to strike Norman’s head. On Monday, he was suspended for one game.
The baseball bat has been around all season. Cornerback Bené Benwikere brought it out a couple of weeks ago during pregame before a 38-0 shutout of the Atlanta Falcons. After that game, several defenders in the locker room spoke about the meaning of the bat.
They said then it was meant to be symbolic of making big plays. It’s a prop. It’s just a motivational tool teams sometimes use. It’s meant to galvanize.
And now that Benwikere suffered a lower-leg fracture and is out for the season, the bat probably carries even more weight in the locker room.
“Coaches and players in every sport use objects as symbols of motivation the bat is a symbol,” Benwikere posted to his official Twitter account @BigPlayBene Monday after the reports surfaced.
If any Panthers players truly threatened Beckham before the game, that’s an offense that should be taken seriously. But until that is proven, this is just an attempt to deflect attention away from a story that has already been talked about too much.
Teams have been using similar ploys for years.
Former Raiders interim coach Tony Sparano buried a football to put a symbolic end to the team’s 0-4 start.
In 2004, then Jacksonville Jaguars coach Jack Del Rio placed a tree trunk in the locker room with an ax nearby. Players were asked to take hacks to symbolize them to “Keep chopping wood.” Punter Chris Hanson even suffered a gash when he misjudged the ax and cut his leg.
Teams do this all the time.
Let’s just move on.