Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr.


Keidel: Giants Must Protect Themselves From Odell Beckham Jr.'s Troubling Behavior

Viral Video Is Latest Red Flag For Wide Receiver

Jason Keidel
March 12, 2018 - 1:49 pm

You've seen the video. He was somewhere with someone doing something. We know the where and whom. 

But what?

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Like most things with Odell Beckham Jr., the video that went viral this weekend is shrouded in mystery, drama and recklessness. Like one of his dazzling moves, it was so quick you must watch, stop and rewind a dozen times before you can appreciate what just happened. 

Beckham is 25 years old. More than a few men his age will hear about sharing a bed with a French model and mood-altering substances and think, "What's the problem?"

But they don't have Beckham's obligations. They aren't asking to be the highest-paid football player on the planet, or at least $20 million a season. They didn't have the best maiden seasons for a wideout in NFL history. They aren't the biggest sports star in the media vortex of America. 

When it comes to money, I've sided with Beckham and implored the Giants to crack open the vault and make it rain on the flamboyant baller. While the NFL always preaches the team-first, selfless coda, Beckham transcends his position and team. He is more than his yards, touchdowns and spastic TD dances. He is a celebrity by every new-age metric we know. He gets people engaged, fans in seats, eyes on the TV and kids sliding into his jersey. 

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But Beckham has always toed the line between passion and petulance. The NFL asks its players to live in a kind of paradox. Coaches and players work themselves into full-throated fury on the field, to play with precision and violence on Sunday, then morph into role models on Monday. It's a wonder that more players aren't more unpredictable, like Beckham. But that's the implicit deal they signed when they joined the league. 

Players often hide behind god-awful euphemisms, like "unfortunate situation" or "bad decisions" when they've just acted like criminals. Beckham's transgressions, however, really live between those code words. He has not run afoul of the law, that we know of anyway. He either is, or acts like he is, unable to tame his more vivid impulses. And, when it comes to his employer, Beckham has put himself in some dubious positions. Whether it's his Mike Tyson moment against Josh Norman, the boat trip before the playoffs or this latest video, Beckham has really tickled the limits of acceptable conduct, at least for a man who wants to be paid like the ultimate professional. 

This doesn't even address Beckham's vulgar imitation of a dog urinating in the end zone, his marriage proposal to a kicking net or his arbitrary outbursts on the sidelines, where he's at times screaming or crying under conditions that don't seem to drive other football players to similar extremes. It might seem silly, but these are red flags to a football club. 

It's silly, if not careless, to say for sure what was in his hand, what that powder was or what he did with either. In a broader sense, compared to the wretched acts from some pro football players, like Rae Carruth or Lawrence Phillips, Beckham hasn't done anything all that bad. It seems the only person he's hurt or humiliated is himself. 

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It's the Giants' job, though, to project and protect -- project Beckham's behavioral arc and protect the team from it. How many times can Beckham act like a kid before he's eventually treated like one? If he were simply John Q. Public, none of this would register, nor would we care. But Beckham lives in that celebrity fishbowl that has devoured a few of his spiritual ancestors. 

Does Beckham have a problem? Or is he the problem? Is he merely a young man exploring the bounds of acceptable behavior, expressing a healthy curiosity that is amplified by his fame and resources? Or is he only going to get worse from here?

The NFL isn't into social experiments, and Big Blue could run out of patience while their most talented player finds himself. We don't yet know when that video was made, but the time is now for Odell Beckham Jr. to make football, not fame, his priority.  

Follow Jason on Twitter at @JasonKeidel