If you think there is any lingering fallout from Odell Beckham Jr.’s ESPN interview in which he raised doubts about Eli Manning, about whether he likes being in New York, whether coach Pat Shurmur is being out-schemed and whether his team plays with enough heart, Beckham offers this reassurance:
There’s no fallout whatsoever.
If anything, he believes the Giants have come together in a way that bodes well for the rest of the season.
“Nothing’s going to come between my brothers and my teammates,” Beckham told Newsday on Tuesday in the Giants’ locker room. “If anything, it’s drawn us close and we’re taking steps to be the very best team we can be.”
Beckham met with the team before Sunday’s 33-31 loss to the Panthers to clarify the comments he made to ESPN. He said he is convinced there are no remaining issues threatening to tear apart the locker room.
“I’m confident in my team,” he said. “We’ve addressed the situation already. I don’t have any concerns about it at all.”
It remains to be seen whether the dustup over the interview indeed will amount to a tempest in a teapot, or eventually mushroom into a bigger problem. Especially if the Giants don’t turn around a 1-4 start immediately. Yes, it’s still early. And yes, the NFC East is still bunched together, thanks to inconsistency among all four teams. But if the Giants lose to the defending Super Bowl champion Eagles on Thursday night, there’s no telling whether Beckham’s frustration will boil over.
But he believes the signs point to a turnaround, not only with the season, but also with the locker room’s chemistry.
“This is something that’s going to pull us closer, and I felt very close as a team on Sunday, and that’s the way we have to play,” Beckham told reporters. “That’s the way that we’re going to fight. Nobody here likes to lose. We’re all tired of losing. We want to change the culture or atmosphere or whatever it is, because this is a place that has a lot of pride.”
Beckham said after the game that he had no regrets about his remarks, this despite Shurmur’s refuting the receiver’s suggestions that the team lacked heart and energy.
“We took a big step,” Beckham said of the last-second loss on a 63-yard field goal by Graham Gano. “If I have to lose on a 63-yard field goal, so be it, but we’re taking steps in the right direction. We’re building off what we did. I’m excited about the opportunity we have for Thursday night. It can’t come fast enough.”
Despite the Giants being a center of attention in the NFL world - and not in a good way – the locker room seemed downright jovial Tuesday. There was barely a hint of lingering disappointment about Sunday’s defeat, and instead a sense of optimism that Thursday’s game presents an opportunity to begin anew. There wasn’t a hint of anger directed at Beckham.
In another sign of detente, the Giants loosened up to the music of - you guessed it - Lil Wayne, who sat alongside Beckham during the ESPN interview. Manning threw shade at the rapper on Monday, saying he doesn’t listen to him, which prompted Lil Wayne to chide Manning on Tuesday.
“Everybody appreciated [Beckham] talking to the team,” wide receiver Sterling Shepard said of the pregame speech. “It was a great message and I think everybody responded well. It hasn’t affected guys at all. Nobody’s talked about it. Everybody in the building is fine.”
In the past, Beckham’s dustups have worn on this team, whether it be his on-field antics or off-field controversies of his own making. But Shepard believes things won’t fester this time, in part because Beckham stood up and explained himself.
“I felt like that was great on his part,” Shepard said. “The message he sent to the team, it was a good message.”
It remains to be seen whether the message resonated, or whether the words eventually will ring hollow.
That’s entirely up to Beckham.