Odell Beckham Jr. had had a long, tough slog on the field, but it took an odder, more troubling turn as he stood by his locker trying to explain the Giants’ 24-10 loss to the Vikings on Monday night.
For six minutes, the Giants’ lightning rod of a receiver made it clear to reporters how he views the world around him — in particular the members of that world in striped officials’ shirts:
They are out to get him.
Beckham was down to his last question when I asked what seemed a simple one: Had he gotten an explanation for the 15-yard taunting penalty that he was hit with in the second quarter?
“Oh, there’s never any explanation,” he said in a tone more matter-of-fact than angry. “It’s just my fault . . . Whatever you want to call it, I just have to understand that if I sneeze the wrong way, it’ll be a flag, it’ll be a fine. If I tie my shoe the wrong way, it might be a fine or a flag.
“As tough as it is to understand that for a 23-year-old who has been blessed with a lot — God has gifted me with an amazing amount of ability, an amazing amount of everything — it seems like it’s all working against you. But what are you going to do? Are you going to back down or are you going to stand up?
“I’ve never been one to back down, so I’m going to stand up.”
And that was only the tail end of a calmly delivered rant that bordered on paranoid. OK, maybe it crossed the border.
To be fair, it did appear Beckham might have gotten a raw deal on the play in question. The Vikings’ Xavier Rhodes, who got the better of him all night, seemed to push him out of bounds late after a short gain.
Beckham rose and charged at Rhodes, expressing his displeasure. The closest official did not make a call, but one many yards away threw a flag. Beckham clapped sarcastically.
“I have to assume that I’m always in the wrong no matter what,” he said later. “That’s something that’s a tough pill to swallow, but you have to understand it. You have to be able to cope with it and just keep it moving.”
Did he think he was hit out of bounds?
“I guess you have to talk to the NFL, but clearly you have to protect yourself going out of bounds, people diving at your leg, diving at you out of bounds. Like I said, this is a man’s sport and I’m not going to be out there just taking hits.”
He went on, and on.
“I can’t lie to you, it’s tough. Like I said, it’s all against you. You have to know that. You have to understand that. It’s never going to deter me from what I want to do. It’s never going to deter us from the goals that we have set, my goals that I have set. It’s just going to make me have to work harder, smarter. Like I said, just understand that. It’s all against me. It is what it is. Whatever you want to call it, it’s against you, and you have to live with that.”
OBJ caught three passes for a total of 23 yards. That’s not good.
Beckham has been great fun to follow to this point in his career, but he is starting to push his luck with opponents, officials, fans and perhaps his own locker room.
“He’s got to be aware that people are looking for him and he’s got to play smarter,” quarterback Eli Manning said. “He can’t afford to do anything they’re going to call. He’s kind of brought that upon himself, so he has to realize that.”
Does Beckham think he has brought this on himself? Not really.
“Um, I’m not the one who puts a camera in my face. I don’t think many teammates knew about what happened last week and it all gets blown up. We live in the era of social media. It is what it is. Created, not created, it doesn’t matter. When you’re at the top of your game, they’re going to try to knock you off, and that’s just the case. You keep it moving.”
When someone asked Victor Cruz about Beckham’s latest misadventures, he said coldly: “Next question . . . I’m not answering any Odell infraction questions.”
Odell probably should take a break from them, too.