On Sunday morning, New York Giants fans woke up to a disturbing sight. They watched in horror as star wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. and his buddy Lil Wayne answered questions about the current state of affairs in East Rutherford. Or the Meadowlands. Or New York. Or Moonachie. Or wherever it is the Giants play.
In the now-infamous interview, which was conducted by ESPN’s Josina Anderson, Beckham pulled no punches. In fact, he even dished out some below-the-belt shots.
First, he called out the Giants coaching staff. He opined that “I just want to be able to be the very best that I can, and I don’t feel like I’m given an opportunity to be the very best that I can. …I don’t want to be held back anymore.” Giants head coach Pat Shurmur was clearly irked by several aspects of the interview, but this quote had to hit him the hardest. In his postgame press conference, Shurmur informed reporters that he had spoken with Beckham about the interview, which the Giants did not know about until it aired. He asked the reporters to speak with Beckham about the interview and that he was done talking about it.
Beckham then went on to say that he should have double the career statistics that he currently has, and that he feels that he could score a touchdown in every quarter. Really, Odell? A touchdown in every quarter? If a wide receiver caught a touchdown in every quarter, they would finish an NFL season with 64 touchdowns. That would almost triple Randy Moss‘s record-breaking output of 23 touchdowns from his historic 2007 season. Scoring a touchdown in every quarter is impossible even with all of the rule changes that are geared toward helping offenses score more points. He made these comments with a straight face, which would lead one to believe that Beckham was being serious. He was certainly exaggerating a bit, as his next point was that he should have a minimum of 100 yards and two touchdowns in each game. However, he continued to make preposterous claims throughout the rest of the interview.
When asked about what was holding him back, Beckham responded by saying that he was in a bad situation. He also commented that he doesn’t get 20 targets per game like some other receivers do. Hold on a second. Twenty targets per game? Beckham must be living in fantasy land (or Madden Land) if he thinks that some receivers are being targeted 20 times per game. The NFL’s leaders in targets, Antonio Brown and Adam Thielen, are averaging 13.2 targets per game. Next up on the list is Beckham, who is averaging 11.8 targets per game. Eli Manning may not be the quarterback he used to be, but he still targets Beckham almost twelve times per game.
Beckham also had some things to say about the Giants quarterback. He did not give an answer when asked whether there was an issue at the quarterback position. Beckham then went on to list all of Manning’s faults. He mentioned Manning’s immobility, his waning arm strength, and lack of confidence. What he said about Manning may be true, but it was not right for him to say those things in that setting. It is unprofessional to call out a teammate in that way.
In Sunday’s heartbreaking loss to the Carolina Panthers, Beckham made a few costly mistakes. First, he was hit by a punt, and the ball was eventually recovered in the end zone for a Panthers touchdown. Later in the game, he made a costly drop on fourth down. Those weren’t the only Beckham-related developments in the game. In the second half, wide receiver Sterling Shepard threw a temper tantrum on the sideline. It was impossible to watch the tantrum and not think of Beckham’s repeated sideline blowups. The Giants allowed Beckham to do whatever he wanted to on the sideline throughout the early stages of his career, and now his teammates are following his lead. It would be foolish to think that Shepard only threw the tantrum because of Beckham. However, the fact that Beckham was allowed to destroy things means that the other players are also allowed to do whatever they want. The culture that the Giants could have established several years ago is not there.
Beckham is under contract for the next five-and-a-half years. He is the highest-paid wide receiver in football. Do the Giants have buyer’s remorse? You bet they do. The Giants are stuck paying the whiny Beckham $20 million per year for the next five years. As a result of the extension, they will be unable to make major improvements to the roster in the next several years. They could have gotten rid of Beckham and all of the distractions he brings. They could have gotten a first-round pick (and probably a few mid-round picks) from the Rams in the offseason. Instead, they decided to reward him with a new contract.
Who is to blame for the current (and future) state of the Giants? Well, you can’t blame any of the typical scapegoats this time.
You can’t blame Jerry Reese. He didn’t give out the extension.
You can’t blame Tom Coughlin. It’s not his fault the Giants have continued to allow Beckham to do whatever he wants.
You can’t blame the offensive line. They protected Manning in Sunday’s game and are not preventing Beckham from having big games.
You can’t blame Eli. He may be past his prime, but he can still find Beckham when he needs to.
You can’t even blame Beckham. All he did was sign a piece of paper that guaranteed him $65 million (and possibly up to $100 million) over the next five years.
Who is to blame for this mess? That would be the current front office, the current coaching staff, and, most importantly, ownership. The Giants brass allowed Beckham to take control of the team. They were mesmerized by his on-field performance and turned away whenever Beckham made a bad decision. Now, they (and Giants fans) are paying the price. The future does not look bright for the Giants, and the high-ranking members of the organization have no one to blame but themselves.
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