Contrary to popular belief, maybe Odell Beckham Jr. and his fellow receiving buddies aren’t to blame for the Giants’ dismal 38-13 loss to Green Bay in the NFC Wild Card game on Sunday. Maybe their four drops, which included two in the end zone and three in total by OBJ were just part of the game and totally unrelated to the Miami club adventure and subsequent yacht party with Trey Songz and Justin Bieber six days ago.
My bet would be one had nothing to do with the other, but the TV, radio and social media monsters made a big deal about it. Probably a bigger deal than the situation called for. NFL guys partying a week before a playoff game shouldn’t be huge news. But in this era of Instagram and Snapchat and live reporting, prudent players take these things into account and try their best to avoid any “distractions” leading up to major stakes playoff games.
At the very least they do their dirt all by their lonely and don't show the world.
"There was nothing that could connect seven days ago to today and how we came out and played and executed," Beckham said. "There's just nothing in the world. That's not realistic."
Maybe the poor showing by Giants receivers on Sunday is not as big a deal as social media bloodsuckers and shock scoop opportunists proclaim it to be. The flak these guys are catching seems a bit over the top. However, the situation was totally avoidable. All these brothers had to do was play as hard and effective as they party. It’s really that simple. That’s what they get paid to do; catch wreck on the football field.
Everything else is copacetic as long as the production is up to snuff. We all know how the game works. If you want to bask in the money and the fame -- especially if you are a young black athlete with a huge ego, very flamboyant habits and a mouth that moves faster than his brain can register information -- you can’t have playoff performances like Sunday's.
OBJ's 28 yards receiving were tied for his second-fewest in any game in his career. He had 23 receiving yards against the Vikings in Week 4. Beckham was targeted 11 times, giving Eli Manning his second-worst completion percentage targeting his favorite receiver.
Nobody’s cutting the Giants receivers any slack for being rally killers and playoff pansies on Sunday. Especially not Giants fans who were highly optimistic entering the game and seemed to have things under control until the ineptitude of the receivers opened the door for a Green Bay rally that buried the Giants under a mountain of regret, second-guessing, public embarrassment and humiliation.
Still, the criticism seems harsh for a guy who has been the Giants offense’s saving grace all season and the second most targeted receiver in the sport. We actually should be thanking OBJ for his contributions this season.
Then again, maybe OBJ's leadership should be questioned. Maybe he should feel the heat with no remorse. There’s no doubt he was the ringleader of that Miami excursion that also put Victor Cruz in hot water. Therefore OBJ has to take some of the blame for the fact that Sunday’s game and all of the drama leading up to it probably sealed the unproductive Cruz’s fate as an ex-Giant.
That's just collateral damage. This ain’t a movie. It’s football. It’s about the grind.
Not Snapchat parties and running around in the freezing cold in Green Bay prior to the game without shirts. Maybe they didn’t think about what they were doing and how it would be covered by media once they released those pictures to the public. Maybe they were just living la vida loca and enjoying the fruits of their celebrity by being on a boat where illegal substances were recovered by authorities.
I want to go all in and ride for Big Blue and tell everyone that they are being overly critical. After all, the head coach said his guys were focused. But he also said OBJ needs to “handle football better" and I can't disagree with that.
Punching a hole in the locker room wall after the loss is proof. How many players have broken their hands doing that? Probably the same number of players who have fallen victim to the playoff press where everything other than football is considered a lack of focus.
(Photo Credit: Giants Wire)
Eli Manning kind of laughed off the photos of his receivers in Miami, but I’m sure the two-time Super Bowl winning QB isn’t laughing now.
Neither is OBJ and hopefully when we all can better assess this situation with less bandwagon emotion, folks will realize that blaming these dudes for partying a week before the game is a stretch.
Everyone has bad games. Like my friends keep telling me, “Everybody drops passes. Even Jerry Rice.”
I’ve personally never seen No. 80 drop a pass in the end zone in the playoffs, but I get their point. If OBJ is the real deal as the NFL has anointed him to be, then this situation will definitely be a learning experience for the young, hipster receiver who is still trying to figure out how a simple weekend of fun became a bigger story than anything he previously accomplished on the field.
"I think it did a great job of creating distractions for us, and it's just unfortunate for us," Beckham resolved. "That's just the way this world is."
Hopefully he will take these critical buckshots that are being launched at him from every direction, internalize it and come back next season with an attitude deserving of the crown he wears and the cross he bears as a high-profile brother, enjoying tremendous fame and playing in the media capital of the world.