Odell Beckham Jr.’s postgame rant about what he considered poor officiating in Sunday’s 24-14 loss to the Steelers was met with a surprising and counterintuitive response from Giants coach Ben McAdoo.
Rather than chide Beckham for arguing about a pass-interference call that went against him and several calls Beckham said should have been made against the Steelers — a reaction many fans might expect or even want from the coach — McAdoo had Beckham’s back on the complaints.
Good for the coach.
And about that smile Beckham flashed on the Giants’ sideline after Steelers receiver Antonio Brown, a close friend of Beckham, caught a touchdown pass? McAdoo was unwilling to criticize him.
Again, good for the coach.
There have been plenty of moments this season when Beckham has acted childishly during games, both on the field and on the sideline, and there has been no hesitation on my end to criticize him for it. Whether it’s flinging his helmet into the kicking net and having said net carom back and hit him in the face, or getting down on one knee and proposing to said net in a hey-look-at-me moment after a touchdown, or jawing with Josh Norman or Xavier Rhodes, the scorn for Beckham was well-deserved.
And while I take issue with Beckham’s ill-advised suggestion that the NFL no longer assign referee Terry McAulay and his crew to Giants games — that’s just silly and it’s never going to happen — he is within his rights to question the fairness of some calls and no-calls in the Steelers game. He shouldn’t have been called for offensive pass interference against Ross Cockrell on a “go” route down the left sideline in the first quarter, and there were a handful of other plays in the second half in which Beckham was interfered with and didn’t get the calls.
And the smile after Brown’s touchdown? Oh, please. The two are great friends and train together in the offseason. Does Beckham really need to show fake outrage after watching his friend make a great play? Stop.
“The reaction that I saw from the [replay of the game] was, ‘Hey, [Brown] made his play and now let’s go make ours,’ ” McAdoo said.
Beckham himself explained after the game that it was “not like I’m sitting there rooting for him against our team; oh, man, tear it up. No, I don’t want us to lose, but at the end of the day, I love Antonio. I love the way he plays. I love everything about him. I do admire when he does his thing. That’s true.”
So enough with the overreaction. Better to concentrate on the fact that McAdoo had Beckham’s back on the calls.
When asked if he senses that Beckham is targeted more by officials, McAdoo said he “thought there were a few times [Sunday] that he may have been interfered with, but that is part of the process. We are going to send it into New York and to the officials and let them take a look at it and get some feedback from it and some clarification.”
McAdoo made no secret of his distaste for some of Beckham’s theatrics earlier in the season, and he properly called his receiver out when his fits of temper led to penalties. But star players sometimes need to be treated differently from other players, and in this case, coming to Beckham’s defense makes sense and is a meaningful show of support that the receiver ought to appreciate.
While McAdoo expressed sympathy with Beckham’s plight, Eli Manning had a different take on the situation and suggested during his weekly appearance on WFAN that the receiver “has to be careful of that. With officials, you want to kill them with kindness . . . He’s got to learn how to warm up to those guys so he can get some calls.”
That’s sound advice, and Beckham can do himself a favor by dialing back his emotions. But there’s nothing wrong with being like a basketball coach who argues about a foul in the first quarter to get the right call in the fourth quarter. You never saw Tom Coughlin or Bill Parcells trying to kill the officials with kindness, and things turned out pretty well for those guys.
At least Beckham has stated his case, and his coach stands by that frustration. Nothing wrong with that.