Childish, blame, concerning, antics, distraction, lack of control; these are some of the terms being thrown around the media and the NFL regarding Odell Beckham, Jr. As Beckham prepares for week five against the Green Bay Packers we are coming full circle with what it means to be a star athlete in 2016.
Odell Beckham, Jr: Passion Vs. Distraction
No one can escape the headlines, tweets, and sports radio talk surrounding Beckham this week. Whether it is comments he made, comments coaches and players have made, analysts’ opinions of Beckham’s actions, opinions on what will happen next. Every moment leading up to week five feels like the world is focused on Beckham.
In today’s world of social media and instant access to everything, Beckham has got to play it smarter. It is so easy to take something on social media or from a post-game comment out of context. So why not just take all that emotion and put it all out on the field instead? Yes, the refs missed some calls on Monday night against the Minnesota Vikings. Beckham was hit out of bounds and perhaps more happened that was missed. But Beckham himself likely got lucky on some plays that he could have been called on as well. Regardless, football players know, the calls do not always go your way. Football is more than just a physical game, it is just as much a mental game. If 31 other teams think they have the formula to get inside your head, completely throw you off your game, and possibly help you get kicked out of the game, this is a real problem. Beckham has been walking a fine line with it for two weeks in a row now.
This past Monday, Beckham was held to a career low of three receptions and 23 yards, and one unsportsmanlike penalty. Credit must be given to Xavier Rhodes for some some good coverage and being able to be another player to expose the bad side of Beckham, but it did not have to go that way. Beckham is too talented to allow players to decide the game for him. He may not have control over the calls or the coverage on him, but he can control his own actions and words on and off the field.
The headlines this week should be about how dynamic Minnesota was or how poorly the New York Giants played. It should be about how the secondary may be in trouble due to injury and how Eli Manning must stop turning over the ball. Instead, Beckham is taking the attention and the focus away from what matters – winning the game.
It is not too late. I would not be quick to compare him to Terrell Owens or any other players notable for a bad attitude. This is a young player, extremely gifted, talented, and passionate who is drawing a ton of attention due to his personality, his actions, and just the ability to stand out. His passion is admirable, and is something he should without a doubt continue to play. But he must make some major adjustments before he truly becomes the villain some people out there so badly want him to be. All eyes will be on Odell Beckham, Jr. this weekend, just wondering what kind of performance he will choose to put on this time. But do not count out Beckham just yet. This is a player whose heart and ability are in the right place. While already setting records, he has the ability to be one of the greatest of all time. He will not let his emotions take that away from him.