Bob Glauber has been Newsday's national football columnist since 1992. He was Newsday's football writer covering the Jets
Ben McAdoo apparently is not a fan of Odell Beckham Jr.’s infatuation with the Giants’ kicking net.
A day after the star receiver had a career game and provoked social media reaction, the first-year coach didn’t seem amused by his behavior. Beckham almost single-handedly lifted the Giants to a 27-23 comeback win over the Ravens with two long touchdown catches, but his sideline antics didn’t resonate with McAdoo. Nor did the unsportsmanlike-conduct penalty Beckham incurred after the winning score, when he took off his helmet in the end zone.
“He came up to me right after ,” McAdoo said Monday on a conference call. “We had a discussion about it. Can’t have it. He knows that. He went out and wanted to fire up the kickoff coverage and the defense. He knows we can’t have it.”
Fortunately for the Giants, the penalty did not cost them the game. They stopped a last-minute drive and broke a three-game losing streak. But make no mistake: McAdoo is growing impatient with Beckham’s penchant for drawing penalties; it was his third in the last four games.
And the whole kicking net thing, which seemed cute at first but was a bit too contrived Sunday, doesn’t sit well with the coach, either. Asked about Beckham’s using the net as a prop after both touchdowns — he pulled it over him after the first one, then bent on one knee and “proposed” to the net after the second — McAdoo offered a terse response.
“We need to keep our focus on the ballgame.”
Asked for further comment on Beckham’s antics, McAdoo said, “We, as a team, need to focus on the ballgame.”
McAdoo knows he’s walking a fine line. He doesn’t want to stifle Beckham’s personality but also doesn’t want to let him place himself above the team. Lying beneath a net, then proposing to it — even though it’s intended as a humorous response to Beckham’s fit of anger a few weeks ago, when he slammed his helmet into it in frustration and was hit in the face by it — isn’t McAdoo’s idea of fostering the team concept.
Eli Manning acknowledged Beckham needs to watch himself.
“I think with a win, you can ignore it a little bit easier. Let the coach handle ,” Manning said Monday on WFAN. “We have to be careful about getting penalties late in a game and putting our defense in a bind. But he made plays. It’s one of those deals where, hey, you can get real sick of it if he’s not making plays, but when he has a couple of huge catches and 200 yards and a game-winning touchdown, you want him to be a little smarter, but you accept it a little easier.”
Beckham is one of the most talented and flamboyant receivers you’ll ever see, and while no one will complain about his spectacular catches and game-breaking ability, his self-promotion and self-absorption rub some people the wrong way. He needs to know there’s a risk in going too far with it, as one former Giant can attest.
“I think he’s trying too hard,” Amani Toomer told Newsday on Monday. “I just think it’s a weird thing with the net now. It’s a whole subplot. I know in this city, trying to chase fame and notoriety is not a good thing. Pretty soon, you’re not going to be the story. You can’t chase popularity as an athlete. I don’t think this is the city for that.”
Toomer was one of the most understated receivers of his generation — the anti-Terrell Owens, if you will — and he let his performance do the talking. Not that he’s against Beckham having fun and celebrating. But there’s a limit.
“I don’t think he really sees the big picture yet of what it really means to be in the NFL,” said Toomer, who had 668 catches for 9,497 yards and 54 touchdowns during his 13-year career with the Giants from 1996-2008. “He’s gotten all the publicity, all the hype, and that’s great, and he’s played very well. But his team has not done well. The coach just got fired. The general manager is in hot water. This is not ‘Happy Days’ at the Giants. The organization can flip over in a minute.”
Toomer would like to see Beckham think less about Beckham and more about his team.
“The definition of a teammate is putting the team ahead of you,” Toomer said. “Odell is highly emotional, but you have to keep it in perspective. You can earn the right to act the fool if you’re the best and you’re playing the best, but up until this past week, he wasn’t playing his best and his team had lost three straight games. Nobody should be showing out.”
Toomer thinks Beckham will mature over time and gain a better perspective about the game and his role.
“He’s only 23, so he’s still young,” Toomer said. “I just want him to see the bigger picture. I don’t want to sound like I’m hating on Odell. I’m not. But this isn’t just about you. It’s bigger than him. It seems like he’s trying to make it all about him. This isn’t tennis. It’s not a one-on-one game. There are 10 other guys with you.”