Briean Boddy-Calhoun once had his Gophers career jeopardized by a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee. The scrappy playmaker who went undrafted last year, is now in his second year as a Browns defensive back.
Monday night, the 5-9, 193-pound Boddy-Calhoun became a villain in some circles for a controversial hit on Giants superstar Odell Beckham Jr. Others noted that the hit was well within NFL rules.
Beckham made a leaping, 18-yard catch early in the second quarter. Boddy-Calhoun went low for the tackle, putting his head down at impact while his shoulder pads connecting with Beckham’s left knee.
The hit knocked Beckham sideways, off his feet, with his shoulder and head hitting the grass. Beckham spun the ball toward Boddy-Calhoun in apparent disgust and limped away. The Giants later said Beckham had a sprained ankle.
Don Van Natta Jr., an ESPN senior writer, tweeted that Boddy-Calhoun should be suspended for the entire regular season.
If you do this in a pre-season game, you should be suspended for the ENTIRE REGULAR SEASON. pic.twitter.com/f67pxykqqB— Don Van Natta Jr. (@DVNJr) August 22, 2017
ESPN’s Kevin Seifert later wrote, “Reasonable people can argue whether the hit from Browns cornerback Briean Boddy-Calhoun was necessary, unavoidable, clean or dirty. But there is no arguing this point: It was 100 percent legal.”
Seifert explained that NFL rules designed to minimize head injuries have spurred defenders to change their tackling technique, lowering their targets.
Giants coach Ben McAdoo echoed those thoughts after the game.
"It's football," McAdoo said. "You can't hit a guy high. You can't hit a guy low. You try to hit him in the middle. … It's a tough play for a DB."
According to Cleveland.com, Boddy-Calhoun said he was actually trying to avoid a fine, making sure not to hit Beckham too high.
“I was just trying to hit him low, hit him in the target area, which is from the neck to the knee," Boddy-Calhoun told reporters. "Just anywhere in there, but I wasn't aiming at anything specific or anything like that."
Giants safety Landon Collins was critical of Boddy-Calhoun’s hit, saying, “I cannot have a teammate next to me playing that way. I cannot condone it. It's not something I seek. He had all the opportunity in the world to make a different play, but I don't condone it."
Beckham reportedly shook his head when asked about the hit but didn’t call it dirty.
“I don’t know, it’s just football I guess, preseason,” Beckham told reporters. “I'm not really the judge. It's just football in my opinion."
Boddy-Calhoun tore his left knee ACL in 2013, just when he was starting to emerge as a playmaker for the Gophers. He returned the next season and wound up making 10 career interceptions for Minnesota. He’s perhaps best known for his game-saving, goal-line strip of De’Mornay Pierson-El in the Gophers’ 2014 win at Nebraska.
Despite being undrafted, Boddy-Calhoun caught on with the Browns and continued making plays last year as a rookie, with three interceptions and 43 tackles in 14 games.
Later in Monday’s game, Boddy-Calhoun struck again, intercepting Geno Smith’s pass with the Giants inside Cleveland’s 5-yard line, threatening to take the lead.
“You see a lot of guys on this defense making plays,” Boddy-Calhoun told reporters, “not just me.”