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Breaking down the call: Should Odell Beckham Jr. be fined, suspended for illegal block?

Odell Beckham delivered a block that would end Jarrad Davis’ night. Should Beckham face punishment from the league?

Detroit Lions v New York Giant Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images

The end of the Detroit Lions 24-10 victory over the New York Giants was sullied when the Lions’ 2017 first-round draft pick, Jarrad Davis, went down late in the game. Davis, going at full speed, went head-first into Giants running back Paul Perkins and was immediately put into concussion protocol. We’re still awaiting updates on his long-term status, but it did not look good.

In the aftermath of the injury, many Lions fans were upset with the play. The reason Davis flew off-balance straight into Perkins’ left hip was because of a block thrown by Giants receiver Odell Beckham Jr. The block appears to have been delivered into Davis’ back, which would typically come with a 10-yard penalty.

But Lions fans wanted way more than a penalty:

So let’s break down this play a little and see whether Beckham’s actions are deserving of a fine or even a possible suspension.

Was it a legal block?

Let’s get this one out of the way first. Almost all Lions fans agreed that this should have resulted in a 10-yard block-in-the-back penalty, which was not called.

Here’s how the NFL Rulebook defines a block in the back:

A Block in the Back is a block that is delivered from behind an opponent above his waist. It is not a block in the back:

(a) if a player is making a personal attempt to recover a loose ball;

(b) if the opponent turns away from the blocker when contact is imminent;

(c) if both of the blocker’s hands are on the opponent’s side. (If either hand is on the back, it is a foul.)

Now let’s look at the play:

Lions LB Jarrad Davis suffered a brain injury on this play, after a block from Odell Beckham

A post shared by Dave Birkett (@davebirkett) on

Although contact is initiated with Davis’ shoulder, it’s pretty clear Beckham then delivers a forearm shove straight into the back of the Lions linebacker.

To avoid a penalty, Beckham would have to be making an attempt on a loose ball (he isn’t), Davis would have to make a sudden turn away from the block (he doesn’t) or Beckham would have to have both his hands on Davis’ side or shoulder (he doesn’t).

This is absolutely a block in the back. It was a missed call. There is little doubt about it.

As for other, more serious infractions, this wasn’t a crackback block, as it was delivered above the waist. This wasn’t a “blindside” block, as Davis was not running “towards or parallel to his own end line.” Davis wasn’t a defenseless player and Beckham did not initiate contact with this his head. This was just a block in the back; plain and simple.

Verdict: Illegal block in the back

Should Beckham face additional punishment?

Whenever a player commits a foul, whether it’s called or not, and it results in a serious injury, the NFL should do their due diligence to see if it deserves further punishment.

The league has a very clear list of violations that will result in a fine if committed, even if it is not called on the field. While blindside, low and chop blocks are all on the list of fineable offenses, nowhere is there a note about blocks in the back.

If the play isn’t even worthy of a fine, there is no reason Beckham should face a suspension.

Verdict: Beckham should not be fined


While I understand the frustration on behalf of Lions fans, there’s really no reason to think Beckham should, or will, face any sort of suspension. Beckham’s block did not seem to have any sort of malicious intent. This wasn’t an incident where a player is taking a shot at a defender that’s out of the play. He didn’t go too high or too low or make forcible contact using the crown of his helmet.

Beckham is a polarizing icon. You either love him or hate him. While I hate that his block resulted in a player getting injured, I cannot hate the man for committing a somewhat frequent penalty that should have been called, but wasn’t.


Should Odell Beckham Jr. face punishment for this block?

This poll is closed

  • 46%
    Yes, he should be fined
    (1016 votes)
  • 17%
    Yes, he should be suspended
    (380 votes)
  • 35%
    No, it was an ordinary penalty
    (777 votes)
2173 votes total Vote Now