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Odell Beckham Jr. only concerned with winning

Odell Beckham #13 of the New York Giants

Odell Beckham #13 of the New York Giants celebrates a touchdown during the third quarter of a game against the New Orleans Saints at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on Nov. 1, 2015 in New Orleans. Credit: Getty Images / Chris Graythen

Sure, Odell Beckham Jr. is aware of the numbers. How can he not be?

If he doesn't see them posted on social media, he'll hear about it from a friend. Or a teammate. Or a reporter who wonders just how much he thinks about his prolific production so early in his NFL career.

"You look at to an extent," the Giants' second-year receiver said the other day in the locker room. "People have told me about them and it's just kind of like, 'I just know what I want to be and I know what I'm going to strive for every single day.' ''

The numbers are remarkable.

In only 20 career games, Beckham has 141 catches and needs only nine receptions in the next four games to set the NFL record for the fewest games required to reach 150.

His 141 catches are the most by a receiver in his first two years in Giants history, with Beckham already breaking the mark of 139 set by Plaxico Burress in 2005-06. Burress played 31 games in those two seasons. Beckham set the Giants' rookie record of 91 catches for 1,305 yards and 12 touchdown catches in only 12 games last year.

And Beckham, who has 1,959 career receiving yards, needs only 41 yards on Sunday against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to tie the record for the fewest games required to reach 2,000 yards. That list includes Hall of Famers Bob Hayes and Lance Alworth.

But here's the thing about the mature-beyond-his-years receiver, who celebrated his 23rd birthday on Thursday: While Beckham respects and appreciates the numbers he has produced, he wants you to know that those statistics don't define him. They're merely a reflection of his passion for the game.

"If you start playing for numbers and you're playing for stats," he said, "it's taking away from what I really love doing, which is playing football and being out on the field and having joy for the game and love for the game. You kind of just get lost up in all that, and it's something that I try to keep in the back of my mind, not so much to make it the point of emphasis."

That's a remarkably grounded way of looking at things, and the hope here is that Beckham will maintain that sense of balance. It won't be easy, not with all the attention paid to what his talents deliver on game day. But it will be essential to Beckham's well-being as his NFL career unfolds.

He plays a position in which several players before him have lost their way with a self-centered attitude, created in part by the adulation they receive for statistical greatness. Terrell Owens and Randy Moss soon will be going to the Hall of Fame because of their production, but they often let their own self-interest dominate their way of thinking. It was too often a me-first attitude instead of a team-first approach.

Beckham insists he still is all about his team, not himself. Here's hoping it stays that way.

"I want to be the best that I can be on the field," he said. "Whatever I can do to help the team, whether it's scoring zero touchdowns, no catches, or 25 catches, five touchdowns. Whatever it is, do it to the best of my ability."

Beckham had yet another remarkable game last week against the Saints with eight catches for 130 yards and three touchdowns. It was a homecoming for Beckham, who grew up in New Orleans, and plenty of family and friends were on hand to see his brilliant performance.

But it's the disappointment of the final score -- a 52-49 loss -- he remembers most.

"It being such a special game for me, I always dreamed of playing in the Superdome," he said. "Things just didn't turn out the way we wanted. We didn't get the win like we wanted, and that's unfortunate."

There's another chance on Sunday against the Bucs, a chance to contribute to a winning effort, regardless of what the stat sheet reads afterward. A chance to get the first of the birthday wishes he made on Thursday.

"I wish that we win the game Sunday," he said, "and then one after that, and the one after that, and the one after that, the ones all the way after that, leading up to maybe hoisting the trophy one day. That would be the wish for me."

Zero catches or 25 catches. Whatever it takes.

With Beckham, the win's the thing.

The ring's the thing, too.

New York Sports