There have been plenty of suggestions about how to get Odell Beckham Jr.’s temper under control. Bench him. Have him see a sports psychologist. Publicly call him out and make him realize he has to change his behavior.
Brandon Marshall’s suggestion: none of the above.
The Jets’ star receiver, who has had his own battles trying to control his temper over the years, suggested any heavy-handed approach with the Giants’ 23-year-old wide receiver is misguided. While not absolving Beckham for some of his actions — the latest being yet another fit of temper in the Giants’ 24-10 loss to the Vikings on Monday night, when he got into a skirmish with cornerback Xavier Rhodes — Marshall believes Beckham is dealing with the pitfalls of being a superstar and thus needs to be given a wider latitude by his teammates and coaches.
And the public.
“Those guys over there [the Giants] need to be really careful,” Marshall said Wednesday after practice. “They don’t need to be speaking out on their teammate. They need to keep that in-house, because they can lose him [mentally]. They need to rally behind him and give him the support he needs and handle that stuff in-house, whether good or bad. Whether they like it or not, he’s the best player on the team.”
The idea of coach Ben McAdoo benching Beckham has been suggested, but Marshall said that would be the worst way to deal with the situation.
“That’s not good business,” he said. “I just think they take care of that stuff in house. That’s what the good teams do, just take care of their business in-house, no matter how bad it is. You’re brothers. You’re family. He’s not a selfish guy. He truly believes — and most receivers like him believe — that with the ball in their hands, they can really help out with the offense. He really wants to win. They just need to figure out a way where they can all get on the same page.”
Agreed on this point. Benching Beckham isn’t the way to go. At least not yet. If his play devolves into the kind of back-and-forth from last year’s matchup with Josh Norman, that’s one thing. But you don’t start a game with your best player on the bench. It’s too soon for that, no matter how such a move might placate an increasingly critical fan base that is growing frustrated with Beckham’s temper.
Marshall and Beckham spoke by phone on Sept. 28, as reported by Newsday, and the two had a frank conversation. The call took place three days after Beckham needed to be restrained on the sidelines in the fourth quarter after Eli Manning threw an interception in the end zone. At one point during his tantrum, Beckham whipped his helmet into the kicking net, and the net caromed back toward him and hit him in the face.
Marshall, who suggested Beckham could benefit by trying “Lucid,” a mental training app for athletes, said he came away from their talk convinced that Beckham’s frustrations are strictly related to wanting to help the Giants win.
“The guy loves football,” Marshall said. “He’s a great talent. There’s a lot of pressure on him. There’s two [television] cameras on him every Sunday. It’s part of the process. LeBron James went through it, too. This comes with the territory of being a superstar.”
Beckham does not need psychological help, as far as Marshall is concerned. “He’s the type of guy that can play with anger. He can play with rage,” Marshall said. “He doesn’t need a sports psychologist for that, because he’s still going to make that magnificent one-handed catch. The problem is it may be a distraction to his teammates, where guys don’t want to answer the same question every single week. But he doesn’t need [psychological] help. I think he can channel it a bit better, but there’s a thin line. He has to be himself. Monday night, he was not himself.”
That said, it’s still incumbent on the Giants to support Beckham.
“The coach coming out and saying he needs to do this . . . no. That’s the wrong way,” Marshall said. “You’re playing with fire right there.”
Marshall has been accused of being similarly selfish during his days with the Broncos, Dolphins and Bears. He has mostly steered clear of any negative reactions since joining the Jets last year, so he can relate to what Beckham is going through. In fact, he’s so fascinated with the notion that many receivers are tagged with a negative connotation that he plans on writing about it.
“I’m going to write a paper on this whole psyche of superstar wide receivers, me-me-me guys, the pressure to perform, fantasy football. I’m a guy that deals with the same thing, still to this day. It’s a challenge for me. So, a guy asking for a ball, like we call wide receivers prima donnas and divas, me-me-me guys, because they ask for the ball. With most of the wide receivers like Odell Beckham Jr. or Dez Bryant, what they’re really saying is, ‘I can help this team. I want to win.’ But I would say that most of us are not politically correct. We don’t know how to say it the right way.”
And it’s that very intensity that can be a double-edged sword.
“Our biggest strengths are our biggest weaknesses,” he said. “Odell Beckham Jr. wouldn’t be where he’s at today or the super star, the face of the NFL rock star, if he didn’t have that passion and that desire.”
As long as the Giants handle Beckham the right way — and that will be an ongoing process — Marshall thinks the wide receiver will continue to flourish, despite his frequent in-game histrionics.
“He’s going to be OK,” Marshall said. “It’s just part of being a superstar.”