PHOENIX — Brandon Marshall has been on both sides of the issue of wide receiver maturity. “I’ve been a problem,” he said Monday at the NFL’s annual meeting, “and I’ve also been a solution.”
The Giants hope he can be the latter when it comes to dealing with Odell Beckham Jr. While Beckham’s talents have been off the charts in his first three seasons with the Giants, the headaches also have been part of that bargain. Whether it was dangerous, misguided on-the-field duels with Josh Norman, ill-advised party trips to Miami before the start of the playoffs or the hole in the wall at Lambeau Field that punctuated the 2016 season, Beckham’s play often has been overshadowed by other issues.
At this point, the Giants clearly believe that Beckham needs to work more on developing as a person than as a player.
“I think we all would agree that Odell is a great player and he’s an impact player. He is a game-changer,” Giants co-owner Steve Tisch said. “He’s not a problem child, he’s a work in progress, and I think his commitment to the Giants, to his teammates, to ownership, is one hundred percent . . . His commitment from my point of view gets stronger and stronger every season, and I think this could be a very, very strong season for him on the field.”
Marshall likely will play a role in that.
“His commitment to really understanding his challenges and how he has dealt with his challenges, he’s going to bring a tremendous amount of experiences as well as maturity to the Giants,” Tisch said of Marshall. “I think his presence in the locker room, I’m very, very excited about. Some of the younger players, certainly the rookies, are going to look to Brandon and they’re going to get so much from him. He’s extremely accessible and he wants to be one of the leaders in that locker room, which I know he will be.”
“He’s evolved and matured, and his maturation is a nice thing to see,” general manager Jerry Reese said of Marshall.
Is that something he can impart to Beckham and others?
“We hope so,” Reese said.
Marshall said that has to happen at its own pace. He said he did not discuss that part of his role when he signed with the Giants, but he’s aware that is part of the job description.
“I have a wealth of experience and I just think organically and naturally, whenever he needs — not just him but any guy in the receiver room — whenever they need to pull from that, they’ll do that in a natural, organic way,” Marshall said. “We have to remember that Odell is what, 23, 24 years old? We all have our own journey.”
Marshall used to be the sour apple. The Giants are his fifth organization, and he did not leave on good terms with many of them early in his career (the Jets released him this offseason as part of their movement to younger players).
Since those early, tumultuous years, though, Marshall has evolved into a more steady locker-room presence. That’s why he was here at the league meeting, the only active player invited, to speak with owners and executives about the relationships between the players and front office.
And now he’ll have a hand in molding Beckham.
“He’s the ultimate competitor and I want him to stay exactly where he’s at,” Marshall said. “Sometimes it’s easy for us as football players and wide receivers to cross that line, but he’ll grow. Next year he’s not going to be perfect and the year after that he’s not going to be perfect. Shoot, I’m 33, and every year I get better and better. I’m never perfect. I just want him to stay on the track that he’s on and continue to mature.”