The latest episode of As Odell Beckham Jr.’s World Turns aired Monday night live from Minnesota.
It featured the star receiver reprising his role for a second straight week as the uber-talented, uber-petulant player who again lets extracurriculars overshadow—and possibly impede—his play on the field, this time in a 24–10 loss to the now 4–0 Vikings.
Beckham’s antics are wearing thin the nerves of most NFL observers. It’s as if Beckham, who snapped a streak of 28 straight games with at least four catches Monday, is trying to show how tough he is but embarrassing himself in the process.
Beckham picked up where he left off last week with the kicking net in the first half of Monday night’s game. Eli Manning, befuddled by the varied looks from the Vikings’ defense as well as the crowd noise, couldn’t find No. 13 until midway through the second quarter. By that time the Giants were down 14–0 to a team that has allowed one touchdown to a receiver all season.
Two plays later, Minnesota cornerback Xavier Rhodes, who last week helped shut down Carolina receiver Kelvin Benjamin to the tune of no catches on just one target, chased after Beckham and hit the receiver just as he started to step out of bounds following a four-yard gain.
Beckham then walked up on Rhodes and bumped him from behind. Then, asking for a late-hit flag, Beckham bumped into the line judge. Somewhere in between, Beckham got flagged for taunting.
Yes, the NFL is cracking down on taunting. And no, getting in Rhodes’s ear probably wouldn’t denote taunting for most players—especially stars. But all that good capital Beckham built up with the one-handed catches and dances and commercials is starting to dissipate.
It began in last season’s Week 15 game against the Panthers and Josh Norman when Beckham lost his mind, got suspended and eventually was mentioned in a Kanye song: “On the field I’m over-reckless/On my Odell Beckham.” It continued two weeks ago when he blindsided the Saints’ Kenny Vaccaro and got fined $36,000. And last week he was seen losing a fight with a kicking net and later becoming so emotional that he appeared to be crying as the Giants lost to Washington.
The league may be overzealous with its taunting penalties this year, but referee Brad Allen and his crew knew the guy they were dealing with.
Apparently undeterred by the taunting penalty—or perhaps motivated by it—Beckham went right back at Rhodes on the ensuing play. He got away with a clear offensive pass interference when he pushed Rhodes in the face eight yards downfield to get separation for a catch.
After getting 10 yards on the play and getting out of bounds, Beckham accelerated toward Rhodes in two steps. Rhodes appeared to be ready for some type of foolishness and lowered his shoulder as both men absorbed the hit. Beckham finished the half—and the game—with three catches for 23 yards, the lowest yardage output in his career.
Giants receivers coach Adam Henry was seen on the sideline talking to Beckham after that series. Offensive lineman Bobby Hart tried talking to him going into the locker room at halftime. Certainly Beckham’s teammates like his passion over passiveness, but weekly therapy sessions must get exhausting.
To Beckham’s credit, it seemed the talks worked and there were no more outbursts. He endured a frustrating second half that featured a drop and ended with Cordarrelle Patterson besting him in catches and receiving yards.
But hopefully this won’t be the new norm for Beckham. We’d all rather see him dancing in the end zone than taking cheap shots near midfield.