Odell Beckham to ESPN: Football isn't fun anymore? Come on!

So wait a second, let’s get this straight:

Odell Beckham Jr., who blames the media, NFL officials, social media and his opponents for fabricating and aggravating his problems, reacted to a postgame Monday night talk from his general manager in Minneapolis by running to a reporter Tuesday and proclaiming he is “not having fun anymore” playing football?

Come on.

Beckham needs to hear something, and he only should need to hear this once, following Anita Marks’ ESPN report that Beckham believes last season’s episode against Carolina “tarnished his image” and is “something the media has not been able to let go:”

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This is New York. This is the NFL. This is one of the league’s landmark franchises. If the intense scrutiny and constant spotlight are too much, there are many other teams that would be glad to employ one of the most prolific receivers in NFL history in a lower-profile market.

If you can’t be accountable for your actions in this environment, there are opportunities to play elsewhere.

Come to think of it, though, plenty of other NFL franchises’ fan bases are rabid, unforgiving and eternally-invested, too: Philadelphia, Green Bay, Oakland, Chicago, Pittsburgh, and on and on.

So what’s the solution here?

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Odell Beckham needs to understand that the fame he gets playing for the Giants is a double-edged sword and also comes with intense scrutiny.

Odell Beckham needs to understand that the fame he gets playing for the Giants is a double-edged sword and also comes with intense scrutiny.

(Jim Mone/AP)

Probably for Beckham to accept blame for his actions against Josh Norman and the Panthers last season, a practically unprecedented level of ugly capped by Beckham’s shocking helmet-to-helmet spear of the loud-mouthed defensive back.

Probably for Beckham to recognize that the media isn’t keeping this story alive; his GM, coach and quarterback are.

Ben McAdoo called Beckham’s Week 3 flip-out against Washington a “distraction.” Eli Manning, who rarely says anything critical, now for two straight weeks has gone on record criticizing Beckham’s behavior. GM Jerry Reese knew very well Monday night that at least six or seven reporters were watching when he sat down for a long talk with Beckham in a mostly empty locker room.

This is not a non-issue. But Beckham must not see any of the positive press written about him, either.

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In this space last week, we made the argument daily that Beckham is the least of a mistake-prone Giants team’s problems and that he needs the ball more. Those facts were reinforced by Monday’s 24-10 loss to Minnesota in which Beckham caught three passes for a career-low 23 yards.

The Giants (2-2) need to involve Beckham more in the offense if they want to win. McAdoo needs to call better plays, as the coach admitted in his Tuesday conference call. Manning needs to complete a higher percentage of his passes and must stop turning the ball over. Everyone needs to stop committing penalties and turnovers.

Victor Cruz and Ereck Flowers combined for 15 yards worth of penalties to kill the Giants’ first drive against the Vikings. Dwayne Harris inexplicably fumbled away Minnesota’s first punt, the Vikings went up 7-0, and the tone for the game was set. Beckham had nothing to do with those game-altering blunders.

Beckham is always going to be under the microscope, something he needs to accept – and change his behavior on the field accordingly.

(Adam Bettcher/Getty Images)

“When we execute better, spread the ball around and everyone gets their opportunities, we’re going to have some fun,” McAdoo said in response to the ESPN Beckham report. “Until we execute better, hang onto the football and eliminate the penalties from our play, no one is going to be having any fun.”

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Beckham most certainly was correct to be upset when the officials didn’t throw a flag for a late hit on Vikings corner Xavier Rhodes on Monday. The hit was late, there is no question.

He also is owed an apology from Tom Coughlin and the officials from last season’s game against Carolina for leaving Beckham on the field and exposing his darkest side for millions of viewers to see.

Still, Beckham has demonstrated an earnest desire to improve himself as a person, player and winner, going back to this summer and training camp. He seeks out winners in other sports, other areas of life, and asks questions, tries to learn more. That’s what he did when he worked out with LeBron James in L.A.

Another element of Marks’ report spoke volumes to Beckham’s genuine intentions: She said he is frustrated that his teammates are so concerned with his mental state that it might be affecting their ability to concentrate on their in-game responsibilities.

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This young man cares about winning. He cares about the team. He doesn’t want to be a distraction. Many of the Giants players would benefit from having the same kind of fire that drives him to be great. But Beckham has to own his part in creating this whole sideshow, including his whining postgame on Monday night in Minneapolis that honestly made an uncontroversial situation suddenly headline-worthy.

Beckham has to get better at tuning out the outside noise. He has to stop thinking that everyone is rooting for him to fail. On the contrary, Beckham is a complete joy to watch when he is dominating. That is why we all tune in – to watch him and all of these incredible athletes compete and succeed against adversity.

Beckham should not be the story right now. The story should be that these Giants don’t look very good at all. The fact that Beckham is the story anyway is part McAdoo, part Manning, part media, part Reese, part Norman, part Coughlin, part officials, but also, part OBJ.

Tags:
nfl
new york giants
odell beckham jr.
ben mcadoo
espn
minnesota vikings

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