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Well, Damn

Sometimes I hate Live Journal.

I've been working all day on a new post, a long long long look back on the year that is ending, and all the things that happened in it, the good and the bad.

I know, I know. I should have broken it up. Made it three posts, or four.

But I didn't, and somehow I lost it.

No problem, I figured. LJ has a "restore previous draft" function.

Sadly, however, when I use it, I get a short two paragraph post that I started last night and then abandoned, after deciding I didn't want to post about that after all.

Today's post, the long long long long one (and it wasn't finished), seems to have vanished into the ether, and I can't get it back.

Nor do I have the energy (or time) to recreate it.

Hell of a way to end the year.

Sorry.

More Hugo Suggestions

Let us continue our discussions of some possible nominees for the 2016 Hugo Awards.

Today I want to look at Best Professional Artist.

This is one of the older Hugo categories... but, if truth be told, one of the more problematic. In theory, the Hugo is supposed to recognize outstanding work from the previous year. In the four fiction categories and the drama categories, where specific books, stories, movies, and TV shows are being nominated, that works admirably. But the system tends to sputter and fail in all the categories where the nominees are people rather than works. In those categories, more oft than not, a "round up the usual suspects" philosophy seems to prevail. The same handful of people seem to get nominated year after year, regardless of what they produced during the specific year in question. Breaking in to the final five is very hard. Having once made the list, however, nominees tend to keep coming back. Often they lose for a few years, then win... and keep on winning. Whether they have had a good year, a bad year, or a long vacation does not always seem to matter. They are thought of as one of the best in their field, thanks to previous nominations, so their names are the ones that come to mind when voters fill out their nominating ballot.

Nowhere is this more obvious than in the Best Professional Artist category, where long winning streaks have been the rule, not the exception. Science fiction and fantasy have always been blessed with a plethora of talented, imaginative, amazing artists, a tradition that goes back way beyond the Hugos and the worldcon itself to the heydey of the pulp magazines. In fact, the very first worldcon Guest of Honor was not a writer, but an artist, Frank R. Paul.

Unfortunately, come Hugo time, only a handful of those artists have ever received the recognition they deserved, due largely to the aforementioned rules, wherein nominations go to a person rather than to a specific work (to be fair, an effort was made a few years back to add a second Hugo category for professional art, for specific works rather than artists, but it received so few nominations that it was, sadly, abandoned). Popular -- and thus well-known -- artists tended to run up long streaks of nominations and victories. Frank Kelly Freas won the first four rockets in this category from 1955 to 1959, won again in 1970, then collected another five from 1972 to 1976. Michael Whelan started winning in 1980, after being a runner-up for two years, and continued winning throughout the 80s, losing only once in the entire decade (to British artist Jim Burns, when worldcon was in Brighton). Whelan won in 1991 and 1992 as well, but in 1994 Bob Eggleton broke through, after finishing behind Whelan for a number of years, and started a streak of his own, winning in 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2001, 2003, and 2004. In between the Eggleton victories Whelan won twice more, in 2000 and 2002, and Jim Burns took another in 2005.

((The whole list of nominees and winners can be examined here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hugo_Award_for_Best_Professional_Artist)).

The point of this is not to take anything away from Freas, Whelan, or Eggleton, all three of whom are magnificent artists, among the most talented ever to work in our field. (I have been fortunate enough to have my own work illustrated by both Freas and Eggleton, though never alas by Whelan, and have originals from all three hanging on my walls). But consider the list of artists active during the same years who NEVER won a Hugo. Virgil Finlay. Chesley Bonestell. Jeff Jones. Steve Fabian. George Barr. Paul Lehr. Tom Kidd. Tom Canty. Barclay Shaw. James Gurney. John Jude Palencar. All Hugo Losers, many of them multiple times (it is a proud thing to be a Hugo Loser, as I have often said). Perhaps even more mind-blowing, Alan Lee and John Howe and Ted Nasmith have never even been nominated.

It is a flawed system, truly. Not at all the fault of the artists, of course. If the Hugo founders had decided, way back when, to give out a "Best Writer" rocket instead of awards for Novel, Novella, Novelette, and Short Story, I suspect Robert A Heinlein would have won the first ten or so, maybe losing one or two to Asimov, until the New Wave when Harlan Ellison and Roger Zelazny and Ursula Le Guin would have taken a few. Then cyberpunk would have arrived and Bill Gibson would have won five in a row, and then... thankfully, though, the writing awards have always gone to stories, not people, so it has always been easier for newcomers to break into the short list.

Flawed or not, though, this is the system we have... which brings me to this year's nominations. I suppose the point of my history lesson here is to urge all those nominating to (1) consider the Usual Suspects by all means, since most of them are terrific, but look BEYOND the Usual Suspects as well, and (2) nominate artists who actually produced great work in 2015, rather than over the entire span of their careers. The award is meant to be for this year's work.

So who do I think produced outstanding art during 2015?

Well, lots of folk, of course, but there are four in particular I had the pleasure of working with this year, and would like to draw to your attention.

First: JOHN PICACIO http://www.johnpicacio.com/ Yes, John is a past winner. Truth be told, he is one of the current crop of Usual Suspects. He was nominated for the first time in 2005, and lost. Thereafter he was nominated every year from 2006 to 2011, losing every year and winning a place of honor in the Hugo Losers party... until he finally broke through and won in 2012. He won again in 2013, lost to Julie Dillon in 2014, and was squeezed off the ballot by the Puppies last year. He's also won the Chesley Award, the Spectrum Award, the World Fantasy Award... and deservedly. Picacio just keeps getting better. A couple of years ago, Picacio embarked on a passion project of his own, creating spectacular original artwork for a loteria deck (an extremely popular Mexican card game). He's still deep in the midst of that, but some of the cards he painted were exhibited last year at worldcon (and probably other cons as well), and during a gallery showing at my Jean Cocteau Cinema. Those of you lucky enough to see them know how amazing they are. Though the loteria deck has been taking most of his time, Picacio also found time during the year to do some cool STARS WARS and WILD CARDS art. You can find samples of that on his website. Meanwhile, here's his most recent loteria card.



Next up: MAGALI VILLENEUVE http://www.magali-villeneuve.com/ Magali is young French artist, immensely talented. I met her for the first time last year during a trip to Paris, but I was already well acquainted with her work. She first came to my attention a few years ago when Fantasy Flight Games hired her to do the art for some of the cards in their GAME OF THRONES collectible card game. Her stuff impressed me so much that I told Random House I wanted her to do the next ICE & FIRE calendar. Magali knocked that one out of the park as well, as all of you who bought the calendar (it debuted last summer at Comicon) can testify. Those of you who have not seen her work... well, the calendar is still widely available, and you can check out her website to see her card art and other work. Magali has never been nominated for a Hugo. She should be.


That brings me to my third suggestion: MICHAEL KOMARCK http://www.komarckart.com/ Komarck's website is a tad outdated, I fear; you won't find much of his recent work there, but I can assure you that he has been active in 2015. I fell in love with his style years ago when he did the cover for the Meisha Merlin edition of TUF VOYAGING, and he's been doing all the covers for the WILD CARDS books, old and new, since Tor re-launched the series. Komarck has been nominated for the Hugo once before, in 2012, losing to Picacio. I think it was about time he was returned to the ballot. Here's his painting for the reissue of DOWN & DIRTY, just a beautiful piece of work.

Lastly, but far far from least, I offer you GARY GIANNI http://www.garygianni.com/ Gianni has never been nominated for a Hugo, which I find truly appalling, since I am convinced that this guy is the living reincarnation of N.C. Wyeth. He blew me away years ago with his artwork for the gorgeous Wandering Star limited editions of Robert E. Howard's SOLOMON KANE and BRAN MAK MORN collections. He followed that up by doing the art for the PRINCE VALIANT comic strip for several years... and it speaks volumes that he'd be tabbed to follow in the footsteps of the immortal Hal Foster. Gianni did the art for the 2014 Ice & Fire calendar, which I know many of you have in your collections. And for the last two years, he has filled his days doing the artwork for the Dunk & Egg collection, A KNIGHT OF THE SEVEN KINGDOMS. That one came out in October, and it's hit all the bestseller lists so I know that a lot of you have seen it. If you love the artwork as much as I do... and how could you not? ... do remember Gianni when making your Hugo nominations. He's way past due, and I can't think of anyone who has produced a more significant body of fantasy art this past year. Here's a taste:



Anyway...

It should go without saying that the four artists I've mentioned above are by no means the only ones to have done outstanding work this year. Many of you will no doubt have other artists to suggest, and you are welcome to do so in the comments below. I would ask, however, that if you want to recommend an artist, please make certain it is for work published in 2015, and do provide a link (where possible) to the work that impressed you, to give us all a look. With art, seeing is believing, and carries way more weight than just dropping names. (Yes, I know, comments with links will be screened by Live Journal, but that's not a problem. Be patient, and one of my minions will unscreen the comment and the link when we get to it).

Let's make this year's ballot a race between the five artists who actually did the best work in the field during 2015.

Opening Day

My friends at Meow Wolf have officially set a date for the opening of their amazing innovative interactive art-and-adventure exhibit, the House of Eternal Return.



Mark it down on your calendars, ladies and gents and children of all ages. The House will kick things off with a spectacular VIP GALA on March 17, St. Patrick's Day. The following weekend, March 18-20, Meow Wolf will officially open to the public. All down on Rufina Circle, inside the former Silva Lanes.

There are going to be all sorts of astonishing extras, and we expect sellout crowd for that first opening weekend. So if you want to join the fun, reserve your tickets now: https://meowwolf.com/product-category/exhibition-tickets/


Hey, the Jets won! Life is magical and full of joy!

Okay, okay, it was not the SuperBowl or anything, just a regular season game. But it was against the New England Patriots, the Horror Out of Boston, the Blue-and-White Walkers from Beyond the Wall, led by Evil Little Bill himself. The Jets always lose to the Patriots, usually in an especially painful fashion. Like they did earlier this season, in Foxboro. But this time they WON!

Okay, okay, they are not in the playoffs yet. New England still wins the division (They always win the division, it is so bloody BORING). Gang Green does not even a wild card slot... though now at least they control their own destiny. If they can defeat Rex and his Buffalo Bills next week, they'll be in the dance.

I will worry about that next week, however. Tonight I savor. (Yes, I know, the Giants play later. AGainst the Vikings. Don't remind me. I am savoring).

As for this morning's game... kudos to Fitz, who played a terrific game aside from that fumble. Kudos to Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker, our terrific one-two punch. Kudos to the running backs, especially Bilal Powell, who played his best game as a Jets. Kudos to the D, who kept Tom Brady on his heels for much of the game. Kudos to our coaching staff... and, especially, kudos to our terrific new GM, who assembled all these pieces.

All these kudos aside, though, Gang Green did almost lose this one. After dominating for most of the first three quarters, they let the Pats get back into it and tie in up in the fourth. A Fitz fumble run back for a TD started the bad stuff, but three bad offensive series in the last quarter compounded the difficulties. No first downs, no time run off the clock... you can't give Brady that kind of opening. So of course he made not one but TWO crucial fourth down conversions, and of course he threw the tying TD with two minutes left. I could feel the victory slipping away as we went to overtime, and the stake was poised above my heart... they tossed the coin, and the Pats won, and the darkness was closing in around me as it has so many times before...

Only then the Pats chose to kick off. Instead of receiving, and putting the hands of Tom Brady, the most dangerous mutha in football, Evil Little Bill decided that Fitz and the Jets should have it. Hee hee. Hoo ha. Oh, sweet. Thanks, Bill. What a lovely Christmas present.

Fitz took the ball and drove Gang Green right down the field for the winning TD.

And that was all she wrote.

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The Hateful 8 Are Coming

I am a huge fan of Quentin Tarantino (and not just because he owns a movie theatre too), so I'm thrilled and delight that we've been able to book his long-awaited 8th film at the Cocteau.

Looks great, too. Here's the trailer.



THE HATEFUL EIGHT opens at the Jean Cocteau on December 30.

Advance tickets are available via the Cocteau website.

See you at the movies!

Xmas Day

Hi, kids, hiya hiya.

Xmas is here. The three spooks have come and gone.

Merry merry to all men and women of good will.

Been quite a year, but I can reflect on that closer to New Year's.

Turducken awaits.

Puppies at Christmas

It's Christmas Eve. Time for my ritual screening of my favorite adaptations of A CHRISTMAS CAROL... the Reginald Owen version, the Alastair Sim version, the George C. Scott version, and... best of all... BLACKADDER'S CHRISTMAS CAROL, with Rowan Atkinson. Time for eggnog. Time for wrapping prezzies. Time for peace on earth, and good will toward men... and women... and aliens... and elves... and even puppies. So in the spirit of the season, I am going to say something nice about the Sad Puppies.

Last year's Puppygate was an ugly affair. I am not going to rehash it here. My views are all on record, my original blog posts still up for anyone who wants to go back and read them. The last thing I want... the last thing anyone who truly loves science fiction, fantasy, and fandom would want... would be to have to go through the whole thing again in 2016. Whatever your view of how the Hugo Awards turned out at Sasquan, I think we can all agree that we would like MidAmericon II's awards to be more joyful, less rancorous, less controversial.

And maybe... just maybe... we'll get our wish. Call me naive. Call me an innocent. Call me too trusting by half, too nice a guy to see how things really are... but, really, I am starting to have some hope. All over the internet, people are already talking about the Hugo Awards, making recommendations, discussing the work... the WORK, the things we love, the stuff that unites us instead of the stuff that divides us. I've been trying to do my part, here on my Not A Blog, and will continue to do so. Over at FILE 770, similar discussions are taking place. And on many other websites, blogs, and bulletin boards as well... including Sad Puppies 4.

Yes, the Sad Puppies are doing it again. ((No big secret, that was announced even before worldcon)). Discussions of possible nominations in all Hugo categories can be found on their SP4 site here: http://sadpuppies4.org/sp4-recommendations-pages-and-faq/ Go check it out. You can even join in. So far as I can tell, you don't need to be a Puppy to recommend.

As of a few minutes ago, there were 159 'thoughts' in the Best Novel section, which suggests a healthy level of participation. And, I am pleased to say, almost all of what follows seems to be honest and enthusiastic discussion of the work. I am seeing very little name-calling compared to what we saw in Sad Puppies 3, a dearth of references to CHORFS and ASPs and Puppy-kickers and that perennial favorite, SJWs. I am not seeing any "nominate this, it will make their heads explode" posts that we saw so often last year.

Instead, people are recommending books. A very wide range of books. Sure, new works by familiar Puppy favorites like Larry Correia, Mike Williamson, and John C. Wright are being recommended (no surprise there)... but so are works by Neal Stephenson, James S.A. Corey, Naomi Novik, Victor Milan, Terry Pratchett, S.M. Stirling, Ian Tregillis, Ernie Cline, Elizabeth Bear, Gene Wolfe, Michael Moorcock, Orson Scott Card, Greg Bear, Kate Elliott, and many others... including the latest Marko Kloos, and... wonder of wonder... novels from N.K. Jemisin and Anne Leckie!

There are some really good names on that list. Some really good books. (And many I have not read yet, but will look up now). And there's an amazing range of literary styles, subgenres, and... yes... political and religious views. And all this is to the good.

(Similar discussions are taking place on Sad Puppies 4 for the other categories, though Best Novel has the most participation).

For decades now, LOCUS and NESFA and other fan groups have produced reading lists at year's end, long lists generated by recommendations from their editors/ members/ etc. If at the end of this process, Sad Puppies 4 puts forth a similar list, one that has room for BOTH Larry Correia and Anne Leckie, I don't think anyone could possibly object. I won't, certainly. A list like that would not be a slate, and the whole "slate voting" thing will become moot.

And that would be great. That would mean no Puppygate II. That would mean a spirited literary debate about writers and books without the acrimony and the name-calling. From that debate a truly democratic and diverse ballot could emerge, one that represents all tastes. That would mean no 'No Awards' at Big MAC II, and the Hugo ceremony could once again become a joyous celebration of the best and brightest in our field.

In my post-worldcon blog post last August 31 (( http://grrm.livejournal.com/440444.html )) I expressed the hope that the ugliness of 2015 could be left behind, that Fandom and Puppydom could coexist in peace. That's still my hope. And right now I am feeling a little more hopeful than I was in August. People are talking books, not trading epithets...

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good read.

The Rumble, Resolved

Well, the controversy about the Odell Beckham/ Josh Norman tangle on Sunday has been resolved... for now.

ODB received a one-game suspension from the NFL. He appealed the suspension, as was his right under collective bargaining. The appeal was heard today, and denied, so the suspension will stand, and Beckham will not play next weekend when the Giants meet the Vikings. He will also lose a game check, which will cost him something like $60,000.

Subsequent to the ruling, Beckham issued a very classy apology:

http://www.giants.com/news-and-blogs/article-1/Statement-from-Odell-Beckham-Jr-/c1ce6b60-5c85-4813-a1ec-6f786e0ed522

Meanwhile, the NFL has also taken steps to fine CB Josh Norman of the Panthers some $26,000 for his own actions in the game. I would have preferred to see Norman suspended as well, since he was the instigator... but ODB did go further, and $26 grand is not nothing, so a rough sort of justice was done. Unlike Beckham, there have been no apologies forthcoming from Norman, just more trash talk. Now he is getting into it with Roddy White, a receiver for the Atlanta Falcons. One has to wonder whether Norman has learned anything. Sunday will show us.

The NFL has also forbidden teams to carry baseball bats and other 'foreign objects' onto the field during the pregame and post-game, which is probably a good idea. It would be nice if they also passed some rules to treat homophobic slurs the same way they do racist slurs, but so far that hasn't happened.

I expect Odell will learn from this, and come back next year bigger and better than ever.

This year? Not much hope there. The Giants are done.

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More Hugo Ruminations

Time to look at another Hugo category.

Today, Best Graphic Story. (Or 'best comic book,' if you want to be less pretentious).

Anyone who knows anything about me knows that I am an old time comic fanboy. I was there for the birth of comics fandom in the 60s. I was the first fan to sign up for the first comicon. My first published words were letters to Stan and Jack in the pages of THE FANTASTIC FOUR and THE AVENGERS. My first published fictions were prose superhero stories in fanzines like HERO and YMIR and STAR-STUDDED COMICS. I was a member of the Merry Marvel Marching Society. I once won an Alley Award (though I never got it). Decades later, I was a guest of honor at San Diego Comicon and won an Inkpot.

That was a long time ago, however. I fear I no longer follow mainstream comics much. I still love the stories and heroes I grew up, Silver Age Marvel and DC (hell, even Charlton, the Question and Blue Beetle were great), but there have been way too many retcons and reboots and restarts for my taste. I don't know who these characters are any longer, and what's worse, I don't much care.

I really don't think we needed to add a Graphic Story category to the Hugo Awards. Comics have their own awards, the Eisners, they don't need the Hugo too. Besides, most SF fans do not follow comics closely enough to make informed judgements in this area.

That being said, however, I have to concede that the fans did pretty damned well nominating in this category last year. SAGA was the only one of the finalists that I had actually heard of before Sasquan announced last year's ballot... but I dutifully read all the others before I voted, and for the most part, I was impressed (okay, not by the Puppy nominee, which was several notches below the other four)... especially by MS. MARVEL, a whole new take on the character (actually a whole new character with an old name), a charming new addition to the Marvel universe, and the eventual winner.

So... I still don't love Graphic Novel as a Hugo category, but it exists, and those who follow the field more closely than me should nominate Good Stuff here again, and maybe I'll have more comic books to discover and delight in when the final ballot comes out.

Meanwhile, I do have one truly outstanding graphic novel to suggest... I am not totally disconnected from the world of comics, y'see... and that's a book called THE SCULPTOR, by Scott McCloud.

McCloud, of course, is the author of UNDERSTANDING COMICS, the seminal work about graphic stories and how they work, a book I recommend unreservedly to all aspiring comic book artists and writers. With THE SCULPTOR, McCloud proves he's as talented a practitioner as he is a theoretician. It's a story about a guy with superpowers, yes... but a very real one. No one puts on spandex to fight crime here. This is a story of character, a tale that evokes not Stan Lee or Jack Kirby or even Steve Ditko (much as I love them), but rather Will Eisner. And higher praise than that I do not have.

I haven't read enough graphic novels to know for certain that THE SCULPTOR was the best of 2015. But it is so damned good, so original and so human, that I cannot imagine that it is not one of the best five. THE SCULPTOR deserves a Hugo nomination, and I know it will be on my ballot.

The Rumble in the Meadowlands

The New York Giants and the Carolina Panthers played a great game yesterday in the Meadowlands, a game for the ages that ended with a 38-35 victory by the unbeaten Panthers. After an amazing Giants comeback, the Panthers won on a classic two-minute drive led by Carolina's MVP Cam Newton, setting up the winning field goal as time expired.

Sadly, all that is being overshadowed by an uglier aspect of the game, the fighting between Giant wideout Odell Beckham Junior and Panther cornerback Josh Norman. The matchup between these two outstanding players had been hyped all week, and once the game began, they did indeed get into it... but not in the way that anyone wanted. Instead we got fighting during and between plays, shoves and slaps and punches and grabs and late hits, a body slam, an ankle grab, all climaxing in a helmet-to-helmet blow that many believe should have led to an ejection. The Beckham/ Norman stuff dominated last night's postgame shows, and was still the number one discussion this morning.

There is no need for me to repeat what everyone else is saying. A lot of the commentators were calling for Odell Beckham to be suspended for his actions during the game, and in particular for that helmet-to-helmet hit. This afternoon they got what they wanted. The NFL has suspended Beckham for one game. (He will likely appeal the suspension. Everyone appeals their suspensions).

I am not going to argue with that. The NFL had good reason to outlaw helmet-to-helmet hits. Using the helmet as a weapon is dangerous. It can lead to concussions, and in some cases to far worse injuries. Beckham should not have done that. The refs probably should have ejected him for that. (He did draw a 15 yard penalty for unnecessary roughness, one of three he received for the night). Many commentators said that Beckham "lost it" during the first half of the Panthers game, and they are not wrong. He let his temper, get the best of him. He lost control. Beckham had no catches in the first half of the game (the first time that has ever happened to him), but he must have been in a dozen scuffles with Norman. It hurt his team -- the three penalties alone cost the Giants 45 yards, not to mention that all this made their most dangerous receiver a non-factor. It was stupid. He should have known better. He should have controlled himself.

So I am not defending Odell Beckham Junior. Can't. Won't. The helmet-to-helmet hit, in particular, was indefensible. Much as I hate to say it, he should have been expelled yesterday, and the one-game suspension is justified.

BUT...

Something else needs to be said as well.

JOSH NORMAN STARTED IT.

ODB let himself be provoked, and that's bad. But it was Norman who initiated the ugliness, and we should not lose sight of that. He is not the innocent victim here, and his postgame comments reek of hypocrisy. ODB went way too far, agreed, but the dirty stuff began with Norman.

On the fourth play of the game, Beckham blew past Norman downfield, and Eli Manning hit him in stride for what would have been a 52-yard TD... if the ball had not bounced off Odell's hands. "My bad," ODB gestured after the play, taking responsibilty for the error. Some talking heads said afterwards that it was that drop that made Beckham so angry and led to what followed.

But that's wrong. It was Norman who most impacted by that pass, not Beckham. After a week of hype about this great match-up, he had allowed ODB to burn him on the first series for what would have been a humiliating touchdown. Plainly, that near miss pissed him off... because ON THE VERY NEXT PLAY, he grabbed ODB and bodyslammed him to the ground. There was no flag, even though a ref was right on top of them. (Picking up a player and slamming him to the ground is also against NFL rules). A couple plays later, Norman fouled ODB again, running into his back and knocking him down. That time ODB struck back and blows were exchanged. But Norman's came first.

But don't take my word for it. Here's the two plays in question.



There were numerous other exchanges between the two players after that. In some cases both of them were in the wrong, shoving and slapping each other. In others, Beckham was to blame, as when he grabbed Norman's ankle after making his first catch of the day. But all these, it has to be noted, came well AFTER Norman started the fighting with these two early plays.

This morning on FIRST TAKE Stephen A Smith and Skip Bayless agreed that Beckham should be suspended for his actions yesterday. I can't disagree. But Bayless also said that the officiating crew should also be suspended, and boy, do I agree with that. Most of this ugliness could have been avoided with stronger officiating. Yes, Beckham should have been ejected for the helmet-to-helmet hit. (Instead he and Norman were both given unsportsmanlike conduct penalties, offsetting). But that was way too late.

Norman should have been given a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for bodyslamming Odell to the ground in the fifth play of the game, as seen above. The ref was right there, and did nothing. Norman should have been given a second penalty when he ran into Odell in the second play on the clip; in that case, ODB should also have been penalized, for his reaction. But no penalties were called on either player in that case.

The officials could have nipped this one in the bud. A few fifteen yarders on Norman early on, and he might have cleaned up his act, and in which case ODB might not have felt the need to take matters into his own hands. But when the refs turned a blind eye to Norman's dirty play...

There is NO excuse for the helmet-to-helmet hit, I will say again. But let's take a look at that one too... and please, watch the entire clip, especially the tight angle on Norman and ODB at the end...



All the sports shows have been showing the helmet-to-helmet blow. Very few have shown what went before it. Beckham and Norman are well away from the action when the play begins. ODB is running his route, and Norman is covering him, when it becomes clear the play is a run, not a pass. As Beckham streaks past, Norman breaks off coverage and moves toward the runner... but not before he gives Beckham a SLAP in the back of the head as he flies by. Completely unprovoked, a blindside blow to the head, not even to break up a play or a pass (no ball is the air)... just a little extra bit of gratuitous nastiness. After which ODB loses it, and comes streaking after Norman to deliver the helmet hit that has gotten him suspended.

Yes, he went way too far in retaliation. But make no mistake, it WAS retaliation. Even on this play, Norman started it.

No one covered themselves with glory yesterday at the Meadowlands (except Cam Newton and Eli Manning). Tom Coughlin should have pulled Odell and sat him down for a while, beyond a doubt. And Ron Rivera should have pulled Norman and sat HIM down. The refs could have ejected ODB, and maybe they should have ejected Norman too. They should CERTAINLY have flagged Norman for the initial inciting incidents. Both players deserve blame for their actions, and they should both get fined.

But it must be said, Odell displayed far more class in his postgame interview than Norman did in his. "The second man always gets caught," ODB said. Never was that more true than yesterday, in the Meadowlands. Norman, meanwhile, was saying that fans would see "what kind of player" ODB was. Norman needs to look in the mirror; the world saw what kind of player he was too.

((It has also come out that before the game some of the Panthers were taunting Beckham with gay slurs and homophobic insults. We're also hearing some strange stories about baseball bats. C'mon, Panthers. You're a great team, you're 14-0, you may be on your way to a Super Bowl. Take a lesson from your quarterback, and show a little class.))

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