As the Giants and Redskins renew their rivalry this weekend, so too will Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. and Redskins cornerback Josh Norman.
Last season, Beckham and Norman infamously fought it out on the field during their only career meeting, when Norman was with Carolina. Throughout the game, the two jawed at each other and eventually got physical. Both players fought, wrestled and delivered shots to each other's heads well after plays were over. Beckham and the Giants overcame a 28-point deficit to tie the game late, only for the Panthers to prevail on a game-winning field goal.
The game is most remembered for Beckham and Norman's slugfest, but the rivalry between the two players didn't stop at the final whistle. With another matchup looming this Sunday at MetLife Stadium, here's a chronological history of the the pair's trash talk, before and after their battle on the field last December.
Before the game
Before Beckham and Norman faced off on the field, the Giants star receiver stirred the pot before the previous week's Monday night game, when the Giants played the Dolphins. During pre-game warm-ups, Beckham wore "Joker" cleats depicting the famous Batman villain. Norman goes by "Batman," and seemed miffed about the cleats after seeing them on TV.
"I don't know if it was really a knock or hit at me or anything like that," Norman said about the cleats that week. "But dang, the timing of which this comes out, right before we are going to play them they show up. That kind of gets me going because I know what the symbolism means to me."
When asked about his upcoming matchup with Beckham, Norman had this to say:
"I got chill bumps coming in here on Tuesday. I was like, man, I'm very much anticipating this matchup. Looking at some of the stuff my opponent possesses, man, it's enticing. It looks very edible."
Week 15: Panthers 38, Giants 35
Norman came onto the field and swung a baseball bat during pregame warm-ups, a move Norman later said "totally unnerved" Beckham. Norman claims that he was not trying to intimidate anyone and pointed out that the Panthers had used a bat as a motivational prop at other times throughout the season.
The action turned ugly just after kickoff, and came to a head in the second half when Beckham launched himself into Norman's helmet after a running play was over.
Beckham was flagged three times for unnecessary roughness, while Norman racked up two unnecessary roughness penaltiese. After the game, the league suspended Beckham for the following week's game and fined Norman $25,000.
After the game
In his post-game press conference, an incensed Norman had a lot to say about Beckham.
On Beckham's most questionable play, launching himself at Norman's head after a play was over:
"The guy ran 15 yards down the field, dead-on collision. The play was all the way to the left side. He came back and was hunting, and it was just, like, malicious in every way. I hope the league office gets a chance to review the film and see what they can do, because players like that don't deserve to be in the game. I mean, it's ridiculous."
On Beckham targeting him throughout the game:
"It was ridiculous. I think it was personal. He was trying to come at me. I didn't take nothing personal. I just went out and did my job."
Norman claimed he had exposed Beckham's true identity.
"You know you don't train like that. That's not you. That's not who you are. You're going to be Michael Jackson and go around and dancing and playing and a lot of other stuff and not be a football player and not train the way you're supposed to train. It goes to show. I hope I pulled that mask off. I pulled back the face of what that dude really is. You want to play football, play football. Don't come out here and do all that extra stuff."
He also said Beckham needed to mature.
"You going to get out here, and you're going to dance around and prance around like you're a ballerina, that goes to show you. When you cut back layers, you see. Everybody saw that live on national TV. There's nothing that I can show that he hasn't already been exposed. The maturity level on him is just as a little kid. I think he needs to grow. I tried to do my best to respect people."
Beckham, meanwhile, deflected questions about Norman after the game, repeatedly saying "it's unfortunate we lost."
Norman appeared on ESPN's SportsNation, and was asked to give a one-word response to Beckham's picture. Norman's word was "OK." Not long after that, Beckham appeared to subtweet Norman:
Norman responded with a direct reply:
After the Twitter exchange but before signing with the Redskins, Norman talked about Beckham in an interview with the Charlotte Observer.
"I'll be honest. I don't care for the guy at all... Now don't get me wrong, he's a good player or whatever, but he's not what he thinks he is. If you hit guys like that, if you completely jam them and shake them up, they can't relate to that. So they start making excuses like, 'Oh, he touched me.' They don't know how to respond because they never got hit like that. So me, every time I see him, I'm going to hit him in the mouth. I don't care. Until he stops crying and b-------."
He also claimed Beckham was overrated because of his one–handed catch against the Cowboys in 2014.
"He's yapping over there. And he doesn't even sound like he's making any sense. He just went [in the draft] in the first round and everything is handed to him. He gets to New York... He catches one stupid little ball [the highlight reel catch against Dallas in 2014] and everyone in New York [loves] this guy, because that's the biggest amount of media in the world. So all that went to his big old head, and for some odd reason he thinks he's somebody that he's not."
Beckham discussed Norman in a July article in GQ. In Kanye West fashion, Beckham basically claimed he made Norman famous.
"It goes back to what I was saying. If I wasn't playing him twice a year, maybe people wouldn't bring it up as much. But now it'll be a lot more media attention for him, attention that I don't really look for, attention that I don't need. The reason that he's become so relevant is because of me."
Beckham also said that his nasty scrap with Norman on the field last year is "the one blemish" on his career, but that he doesn't regret any of his actions from that day.
“He’s relevant because of a catch,” he told the New York Daily News. “But we’re not going to go there. I’m not into the war of words.”
A month after Beckham's GQ article, Norman spoke about Beckham in an interview with ESPN The Magazine. Again, Norman questioned Beckham's maturity and said last December's game hurt the receiver's image.
"Everybody saw what he was. People from around the league were coming up to me afterward and saying, 'He does that crap all the time.' He lost so much respect from people for that little tantrum, I've already got a couple people telling me, 'OK, I've got a hit out on him.' It's going to be rough for him this year. And he brought it on himself."
Norman lauded Beckham's ability as a player but said he needed to grow up.
"He's skilled and talented. I won't take that away from him. But he's never been through any adversity in his life. It's like, when are you ever going to grow up?"
Both Norman and Beckham have been quiet so far leading up to this week's game. During the off–season, SI Now's Maggie Gray asked Norman about facing Beckham in Week 3.
“It don’t matter to me,” Norman said. “Only thing I know is Sept. 25 will be here before you know it. When that does happen, you know, salutes. But for some people, time for honoring themselves will soon be at an end, and that day is coming close.”
We won't have to wait until next season for Beckham–Norman III. Washington and New York will meet again in Week 17.