The gloves are probably a coincidence. Joel Stoneton doesn’t care.

“Not only did it make us smile a little bit, a lot, it’s a reminder that words, written or spoken, have meaning,” Stoneton said.

The gloves were worn by New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham, Jr. during last Sunday’s game against the Green Bay Packers. The gloves were an homage to the Joker, as played by Jared Leto in the movie “Suicide Squad.” Stoneton doesn’t care about the movie. It’s the phrase written on the gloves that caught his attention, and the attention of so many people in Winthrop.

“Just smile,” the gloves read.

In August, 2014, Stoneton’s 17-year old daughter, Kelsey, died unexpectedly from a blood clot in her lungs. In the aftermath of that tragedy, Winthrop adopted the motto “just smile” to remember the best of Kelsey, the joy with which she lived.

The letter from Tom Coughlin is framed and hangs in Stoneton’s office at Winthrop High School. The former football coach and current athletic director at Winthrop has a photo of Kelsey tucked into the corner of the frame. She is smiling radiantly.

The letter is dated October 17, 2014, just over two months after Kelsey’s death. Winthrop native Chris Kempton had connections with the New York Giants. He arranged the letter from Coughlin, who retired as Giants head coach at the end of the 2015 season.

“On behalf of the New York Giants organization I want to extend our deepest sympathy to you and please know how very sorry we are to hear of this difficult time you are going through,” Coughlin wrote.

“I hope you will continue to have faith and maintain a great attitude during this trying time and that those who love and care about you will provide help and comfort.”

The unexpected letter came at exactly the right time, and Stoneton still draws strength from it.

“When I’m having a rough day, I read that and it pulls me out of it,” Stoneton said. “That meant a lot to me. He has his own season going on. Tom sending me that letter, for somebody to take time out of their day to write me. It meant a lot.”

Stoneton is a lifelong Giants fan. That made Kelsey a Giants fan by default, he said. She wasn’t a super fan, but she cheered for the Giants when they played in the Super Bowl. On Sunday afternoons, she would sit with her father in the living room and watch the games for a little while.

“It’s one of those common bonds we had,” Stoneton said.

Those gloves. That unexpected coincidence.

Beckham came under fire for his frustrated antics on the sidelines during the Giants loss to the Minnesota Vikings two weeks ago. In that game, Beckham was held to a career-low 23 yards on three catches. After the game, he said football wasn’t fun for him anymore. In Green Bay last Sunday night, Beckham was closer to his normal self, with five catches for 56 yards and a touchdown. The gloves were a tribute to a favorite comic book character, but they also were a reminder.

“Never let anyone steal your joy, and this is what I love doing,” Beckham said to the New York Post this week.

Stoneton didn’t see the gloves during Sunday night’s game, but friends sent him photos. By Monday morning, the gloves were a viral sensation in Winthrop.

“I’m not a big Facebook guy, but it was all over Facebook,” Stoneton said.

After Beckham’s outburst in the Vikings game, Coughlin said he’s willing to talk to Beckham about controlling his emotions. Did he? Did Coughlin reach out to Beckham? Did he remember writing a letter to a grieving man in Maine two years ago? Did he remember the inspiration that rose from that girl’s passing? Did Coughlin tell the Giants about the fan in Maine two years ago? Did he tell his team how they have the ability to inspire and lift their fans when it’s needed the most? Did Beckham remember something his former coach said? Was there something in the back of his head that told him, even on a subconscious level, to just smile?

That would be perfect, but Stoneton doesn’t want or need perfect. He needs little reminders that in her short life, Kelsey touched people. She made a difference. She lived. No matter the reasons, Beckham’s gloves did that.

“It’s just a reminder that my girl’s still around,” Stoneton said.

Just smile.

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

[email protected]

Twitter: @TLazarczykMTM

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