Ahead of Monday night’s matchup against the New York Jets, Cleveland Browns receiver Odell Beckham accused current Jets defensive coordinator Gregg Williams of directing Browns players to injure him during a 2017 preseason game while he was with the New York Giants.
Asked Thursday whether he expects Williams to let his Jets defensive backs play man against him on Monday night, Beckham said he was more wary about cheap shots from Williams’ defense.
“The only thing I’m buying is probably just gotta watch out for the cheap shots and the dirty hits and all of the things that he likes to teach. That’s pretty much all we gotta watch out for,” Beckham said. “Other than that I expect the same two-high safety on. I don’t expect much man-to-man.”
In the second quarter of the contest, Beckham went airborne to corral a pass from Giants quarterback Eli Manning at the Browns‘ 25-yard line. With Beckham’s back turned away from the end zone, Boddy-Calhoun dove at Beckham’s legs, making contact with the wideout’s left knee as his leg touched down on the turf. Beckham was quickly ruled out of the game with a sprained ankle that forced him to miss Week 1 of the regular season.
Beckham said Thursday that Browns players who were on that 2017 roster told him that Williams, then Cleveland’s defensive coordinator, told his players to take Beckham, New York’s star wide receiver, out of the game.
“It’s preseason. It’s like a known rule. Like in preseason, nobody in the NFL is really out to do stuff like that,” Beckham told reporters. “I had players on this team telling me that that’s what he was telling them to do — ‘take me out of the game’ — and it’s preseason. So, you just know who he is. Just that’s the man … calling the plays.”
The Jets did not respond when reached for comment by NFL.com. Williams is scheduled to speak with the media Friday.
Upon returning from the ankle injury in 2017, Beckham played in the Giants‘ next four games before suffering a season-ending broken ankle in Week 5 against the Los Angeles Chargers. Beckham said Thursday that that ankle injury stemmed from preseason injury inflicted by one of Williams’ players.
“No, it’s exactly, I mean that’s exactly what it did,” Beckham said. “I came back too early for my team. I gave them all I had even though I know I was still three weeks out. I probably came back three weeks too early just because we lost the first game of the season last year, and I felt that pressure to be able to come out there and do what I can to help the team. And I came back too early on that ankle that was already. …
“You know, if God wouldn’t have blessed me the way I am I probably would’ve blown my knee in that preseason game if I wouldn’t have gotten my foot out the ground. And that high ankle sprain led to the, the broken ankle on the left and then, which led to conversations in many different areas, and kind of like a little spiral, or so. It’s something that I’ll never forget. It’s something that, it changed my life forever, so I don’t necessarily regret it, of course, I wish it didn’t happen but it did. So, yeah, that led to the ankle, for sure.”
Beckham and Williams’ defenses had crossed paths before the 2017 incident. In the Giants receiver’s rookie season, Beckham was subject to a late hit by St. Louis Rams linebacker Alec Ogletree. Williams was the Rams‘ defensive coordinator at the time. The hit led to a scrap between the two clubs that led to multiple ejections.
Beckham signed a five-year extension with the Giants during the 2018 offseason, but his stay in New York lasted just one more year. The Giants traded the receiver and Olivier Vernon to the Browns in March in exchange for Jabrill Peppers, Kevin Zeitler and two draft picks that turned into Dexter Lawrence and Oshane Ximines.
A 30-year NFL coaching veteran, Williams, 61, has been the defensive coordinator for seven organizations and the head coach for one — the Buffalo Bills. Williams served a one-year suspension in 2012 for his role in the Bountygate scandal, in which Williams, among other members of the New Orleans Saints, was accused of paying out bonuses to Saints defensive players for injuring opponents.
After serving his suspension, Williams was hired by the Tennessee Titans as a senior assistant defensive coach in 2013 before joining the St. Louis Rams as their defensive coordinator in 2014. He joined Hue Jackson’s Browns staff in 2017 and took over as Cleveland’s interim head coach when Jackson was fired in 2018. Williams interviewed for the Browns‘ head coaching vacancy this offseason but was passed up for Browns offensive coordinator Freddie Kitchens.
Williams was hired as Adam Gase’s defensive coordinator in New York in January. He brought onto his staff former Saints colleague and Gase’s father-in-law Joe Vitt. Vitt was also involved in the Bountygate scandal and was suspended for the first six games of the 2012 season.
Monday night will be Williams’ first game against the Browns since he left the organization and his first game coaching across from Beckham since that 2017 preseason contest.