Odell Beckham Jr. – based on his own, self-inflicted actions – has solidified his reputation as a loose cannon this season.
His on-field antics have caused some to wonder if Beckham is worth the trouble and if the 23-year-old will ever truly grow up and keep his focus on his play and not the distractions of the game.
Again, Beckham has caused his issues by himself. It’s on him. But on Sunday, in London, he showed a side of himself that has been overshadowed by his controversial side.
The New York Giants’ franchise receiver is a tough guy who does possess some team-first DNA.
Beckham traveled to London with a painful hip pointer injury and the Giants were unsure he’d play against the Los Angeles Rams. Beckham was uncomfortable and had difficulty practicing all week. Yet, he gutted it out and contributed with 5 catches for 49 yards in the Giants’ 17-10 win.
It wasn’t a big game by Beckham’s standards by any means, but the fact that he was on the field, trying to get a win after the week he had, was a reminder of what a positive influence Beckham can be for his team.
“He’s one of the toughest kids I know, and I know he’s going to lay it all on the line for his team, for his receivers,” Giants receiver Victor Cruz told reporters after the game. “Whatever he needs, we’re going to back him up 100 percent. We knew it would be tough for him, because that’s not an easy thing to play through. He got it done. He went out and played his butt off, and us receivers backed him up every step of the way.”
Beckham admitted it was a struggle to play, but he couldn’t envision “letting people down” in the organization.
“I had the thoughts of what (would ) happen if I (hadn’t) played,” Beckham told reporters. “I feel like I’d be letting people down. And it was enough motivation. My team fired me up, had my back all night, made sure that I did everything I could to help them out. … It took a lot to get ready for this game. …. It was all mental preparation, actually. Even going through warmups, I didn’t quite know what to expect. I got out there, and it was a little … it was pretty painful. [Co-owner John] Mara and [general manager Jerry] Reese and coach (Ben McAdoo) gave me an opportunity to play.”
Beckham’s selfless actions to play through pain came at a great time.
Despite his sublime talent, the pressure has been on the 2014 first-round pick. He has shown he can easily be taken out of games by physical cornerbacks and he can’t keep his emotions in check on the field. He has a habit of doing silly things, like taking his helmet off on the field and faking (we assume) a bizarre love affair with a kicking net.
It has gotten on the nerves of some of his coaches and teammates. They have talked to him about it and have publicly talked about it.
McAdoo has said he wants Beckham “to keep focus on the field.”
Last week, New York quarterback Eli Manning said on WFAN radio that Beckham’s antics can get tiresome, but his ability to take games over can’t be discounted. He had the game-winning touchdown catch against Baltimore in Week 6 and had 222 yards receiving. Manning noted it is a balancing act of Beckham’s brilliance and theatrics.
“He made plays, and so it’s one of those deals where you can get real sick of it if he’s not going out there and making plays,” Manning told the radio station. “But when he goes out and has a couple huge catches and 200 yards and a game-winning touchdown, you know, you still want him to be smarter, but you accept it a little easier.”
That’s the thing about Beckham. For all the headaches he causes with his unnecessary acts of immaturity on the field, he is a unique talent. The LSU product became the first receiver to have 3,000 receiving yards in his first 30 NFL games. He is averaging nearly 112 receiving yards a game for his career. He is undeniably special.
As he showed in London, he is also tough and he can be a team-first player. That was an important step for a 23-year-old with a reputation for being a me-first player.