This time, Odell Beckham Jr. . . . uhhh . . . ticked off the wrong guy.
By pretending to be a dog urinating in the end zone while celebrating a touchdown during Sunday’s 27-24 loss, Beckham incurred the wrath of the man who ultimately may decide if the talented yet tempestuous receiver will receive his just rewards with a new contract.
When you tick off Giants president and co-owner John Mara like that, that’s when you know you’ve gone too far. And Mara let Beckham know in no uncertain terms during a private meeting Wednesday.
Mara is a third-generation owner for one of the NFL’s flagship franchises, so when a player, especially a player with Beckham’s star power, makes his team look bad, there is a price to be paid.
It remains to be seen whether that price will affect a potential contract offer for Beckham, who is in the fourth year of his five-year rookie deal. But it can’t be good for Beckham that he angered Mara, who repeatedly has said he wants him to be a Giant for life. But when you are the face of the franchise and the back pages of the New York tabloids — including Newsday — show a picture of your behind as you lift your right leg to imitate a dog peeing, the optics are indefensible.
A Giant for life? Not if it’s going to look like that.
Mara has spoken up many times for Beckham, overlooking his fits of temper and saying he wishes he had more players with the passion for the game he shows. But the owner made it clear Tuesday he was “very unhappy” with Beckham’s display, through an email and a statement released by the team.
Although Mara did not comment further Wednesday and Beckham did not disclose the contents of their conversation, it’s safe to assume Mara relayed his anger very directly.
After Wednesday’s practice, Beckham was asked for his reaction to Mara being “very unhappy” with him. His response: “We talked.” He didn’t offer much more than that, and expressed little contrition.
Did he apologize for his behavior?
“No, I said we talked,” Beckham said. “Mr. Mara and I talked.”
What’s the significance of the discussion?
“He and I talked,” Beckham said.
Does he feel like he embarrassed the organization?
“More myself, I guess,” he said.
But even his explanation rang hollow. Beckham seemed to have more of a problem with getting penalized than with his crass display that was surely disconcerting for parents of young Giants fans.
“Only thing is just causing the penalty for the team,” he said. “That’s really it. Only regret is causing us 15 yards, having to cover a long kickoff. Thankfully, we didn’t have any setback from there.”
Beckham hinted Monday his demonstration may have been a reaction to disparaging remarks made Friday by President Donald Trump, who ripped any NFL player who didn’t stand for the national anthem by referring to him as a “son of a (expletive)” who should be fired. He declined to say Wednesday whether his celebration was linked to Trump.
This is a critical time for Beckham, who is making $1.8 million this year and hopes to reach a new deal before next season. Mara has indicated a willingness to redo the contract, but he may be having second thoughts about investing almost $100 million for a player who can’t stop being at the center of controversy.
But Beckham isn’t the only one who whiffed on this latest incident. Coach Ben McAdoo was noticeably reluctant to chide Beckham, saying only that he was disappointed by the penalty, not the tasteless display. McAdoo also was called on the carpet by Mara, a rare yet noteworthy development for an owner who usually stays out of the way.
“Celebration penalties are things you can’t have,” McAdoo said. “It’s a poor reflection on me, on the program and on the organization, and we have a plan for it.”
McAdoo wouldn’t say what that plan is, but Beckham presumably will be fined. An even more effective sanction: Don’t start him Sunday against the Bucs in Tampa. If you really want to make your point, appealing to a player’s pride is an even bigger deterrent than charging him money.
It’s yet another controversy for Beckham, and this time he took things too far for Mara. The choice is Beckham’s for whether he gets his money here or whether the Giants will move on without him.