New York Jets wide receiver Brandon Marshall is the one voice of reason in this week’s mass media attack on New York Giants’ Odell Beckham Jr.
In the past four weeks, Beckham has engaged in numerous verbal confrontations with players, acquired a number of unsportsmanlike conduct/taunting penalties and assaulted a kicking net. The emotional month culminated on Monday night when Beckham accused NFL referees of unfairly targeting him after he drew a taunting penalty during an altercation with Vikings cornerback Xavier Rhodes, who was not penalized.
A deluge of media headlines followed, criticizing everything from Beckham’s unsportsmanlike conduct to “the six inches between his ears.”
Included in those headlines were quotes from Giants quarterback Eli Manning, which came after the game, as well as from head coach Ben McAdoo from a few days prior to the incident. Both men publicly criticized Beckham’s actions.
And since no one — save Dallas Cowboys’ wide receiver Dez Bryant — seemed to be coming to Beckham’s aide, the criticisms from both Beckham’s quarterback and coach were not singled out or questioned.
It was not until late on Wednesday that a shining light appeared in the darkness of this week’s sports media in the form of an article quoting Brandon Marshall.
Marshall told NJ.com that McAdoo and Manning “don’t need to be speaking out on their teammate. They need to keep that in-house.”
Marshall claimed that the two should refrain from airing their grievances to the media, in case it drives Beckham out of the organization.
While this is a legitimate concern, Beckham would only be driven out because the public criticism of a member of one’s team is inherently inappropriate and could create a tense and uncomfortable playing environment.
This is not the Beckham-Josh Norman feud, where two opposing players use the media to get in each other’s heads. This is not an instance in which Beckham has committed a non-football-related crime worthy of denouncing. These are the members of Beckham’s own support system, joining the media frenzy against him instead of privately offering advice.
There is absolutely no reason why McAdoo should be telling reporters that Beckham needs to “control his emotions better” and be less of a distraction to his teammates.
There is absolutely no reason why Manning should be telling the media he believes Beckham is to blame for the referees’ targeting of him.
It does not matter whether or not these statements are true — they should not be in the media.
It is clear that Beckham’s emotional issues are causing problems within the Giants organization. Beckham had the worst game of his career on Monday night, with only three catches amounting to a measly 23 yards. Criticism of Beckham’s behavior could therefore be warranted as it affects his performance on the field.
But these criticisms need to stay in the locker room. Manning needs to take Beckham out to dinner — I would suggest Po Boys or gumbo — and privately explain his suggestions on handling referees. McAdoo needs to call Beckham into his office, close the door and discuss methods for dealing with the recent taunting Beckham has encountered.
Manning’s and McAdoo’s statements to the media are at best careless, at worst selfish. In essence, the two just pulled a ‘Taylor Swift’: a desperate attempt to exclude themselves from the narrative of Beckham’s troubles in order to avoid media attacks of the rest of the Giants, who could be seen as condoning inappropriate behavior.
And it worked — Manning and McAdoo have completely avoided being included in the Beckham-bashing. But in saving themselves, they have created an even more volatile environment in the media, and potentially in the locker room.
What Beckham’s colleagues should be telling reporters is that they do not condone punching kicking nets, but they will still work with their teammate to fix problems. Instead, they are tossing out self-righteous comments as if they were warm-up footballs.
Both men should know better.
Thankfully, Brandon Marshall already does.
Have a reaction to this article? Write a letter to the editor.