Ben McAdoo is absolutely right about Odell Beckham Jr.
A day after Beckham added to his impressive football resume, much of the attention during McAdoo’s Monday conference call revolved around the receiver’s curious and controversial celebration after his first of two touchdown catches in the fourth quarter of a 27-24 loss to the Eagles.
“We should be talking about the way he played,” the Giants’ second-year coach said when asked about Beckham’s end- zone act, in which he got down on all fours pretending to be a dog and lifted his right leg as if to urinate. “He made some great plays in the ballgame, some tremendous plays, game-changing plays. I’d rather be talking about that than the celebration penalty.”
Unfortunately for McAdoo, who is beleaguered enough now that his team is 0-3, it’s Beckham himself who has turned the conversation away from his brilliant talent and onto his me-first antics that take away from the appreciation of his athletic brilliance.
Beckham was penalized 15 yards for unsportsmanlike conduct, forcing the Giants to kick off from the 20-yard line, a major disadvantage in a game that hung in the balance. They had cut their deficit to 14-7 after finally scoring only their second touchdown of the season. The Giants did hold the Eagles scoreless on the next drive, but that’s not the point; he shouldn’t have put them in a bad position in the first place.
After the game, Beckham was unapologetic.
“We needed to make a play,” he said. “We’re down, what, 14-0? OK, we need to make a play, we need a spark. I don’t care if you kick it from the 5-yard line on our side, we need to make a play.”
Yes, you need to make a play. What you don’t need is to put your team in a bad situation. Besides, in a year in which the NFL has loosened celebration rules, that’s the best Beckham can do? Imitate a dog and pretend to tinkle? Really?
The celebration took an unexpected turn Monday, when a CNN editor suggested on Twitter that Beckham’s pretending to be a dog could have been in response to President Donald Trump’s criticism of NFL players who demonstrate during the national anthem. Trump suggested team owners should respond to those players by saying, “Get that son of a (expletive) off the field right now, he’s fired. He’s fired!”
Beckham responded on Twitter: “If u seen that, I have to tip my hat to u for thinkin outside the box. #URRIGHTONPOINT impressed.”
Beckham did raise his right fist after scoring his second touchdown with a remarkable one-handed catch, but did not explain afterward why he did it.
So if both celebrations were truly his way of protesting Trump’s remarks, then say so. Just as many other Giants who demonstrated their distaste for the president’s comments in a thoughtful and heartfelt way did before and after the game. Like Landon Collins, who said he was near tears as he took a knee for the anthem. Or Olivier Vernon, who said he simply couldn’t take any more of Trump’s divisive rhetoric. Or Jonathan Casillas, who mentioned his high regard for Muhammad Ali’s peaceful protests in the Sixties.
At a time like this, there’s no need to send surreptitious messages. This is a time to speak your mind, no matter which side you take in the anthem debate.
Instead, Beckham bristled at questions about his celebration and thumbed his nose at the potentially bad consequences he created for his team. His antics did not go unnoticed by the Eagles, whose coach, Doug Pederson, rightly took offense to an opponent pretending to urinate on his home field.
“Our players see it, our fans see it,” Pederson said. “It’s one of those things I think you just kind of file away in the back of your mind. And you just remember those things and move on.”
Yes, McAdoo is right. We really should be talking about Beckham the football player after a performance like that. But through Beckham’s own doing, we’re talking about a sideshow.