Make what you will out of Odell Beckham Jr.stomping into the locker room to get an IV, and head-butting then sparring an industrial fan on the sidelines when he came back out during the Giants’ blowout loss to the Eagles on Thursday night. That’s his right, just as it’s Tom Brady’s right to do similar things on the Patriots sideline and have it categorized as determination or leadership or toughness.
No one in the NFL world knows what to make of Beckham. He is a player with wildly diverse interests. He is someone with whom engrained coaches are not used to leveling. So it’s no surprise that his criticism of the team during a feature interview with ESPN last Sunday was brushed aside as a malcontent speaking out of turn. He said the Giants weren’t playing with passion, and tossed a little shade at an ineffective Eli Manning.
It was the rare situation where most everyone was in the wrong. Giants coach Pat Shurmur seemed to take out his anger on reporters instead of the person at whom he was actually mad. Beckham put a lot of people in the locker room in a weird spot by taking matters into his own hands instead of speaking directly to the team first about his concerns. Shurmur then left it to the team to handle it internally without explaining who, exactly, might stand up and say something to the mercurial star.
But … after Thursday night, who will dispute the content of Beckham’s interview? Shurmur again bristled at reporters when effort was brought up in his post-game press conference. Manning, when not peeling himself off the ground, was underthrowing balls or soft-tossing them. Had it not been for Saquon Barkley, the Eagles may still be punching in unanswered touchdowns.
This might be the hardest reconciliation for the Giants to make. Beckham held up a mirror to the rest of the franchise, and instead of addressing what they saw, they’ll continue to dig themselves deeper into a pit because they’re mad at the person who did that.
Nothing quite encapsulated this stalemate like when the Giants sent Beckham out to return a punt with two minutes remaining. That felt like a coach saying: You think you can do it without us? Well, here you go. Nevermind the fact that it was an erroneous risk to take down three scores with less than two minutes to play.
And so here we are, watching these seemingly parallel expressions of passive aggression take place while the team continues to lose games and sink the finite life span of their spectacular star running back. How will that end? Who, ultimately, is good enough to survive this?
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