Odell Beckham Jr.’s season ended unceremoniously Friday with the official word that he will sit out Sunday’s game against the Cowboys, his fourth in a row, because of a left quadriceps injury.
But on his way out the door, the star receiver vowed to return stronger than ever in 2019.
“I know next year is going to be tough on everybody I play,” he said. “That’s just how I feel. That’s how I’m coming.”
The good news for the Giants is that Beckham should have an easier road back than last offseason, which he spent recovering from major ankle surgery.
This time what he described as a “pull, strain, whatever you want to call it” should not linger. The fact that it cost him four games itself was a surprise, given that coach Pat Shurmur initially indicated the injury was not serious.
Beckham, 26, is five seasons into his NFL career. These should be his prime years, and he has no time to waste as he pursues what he described as a long-term goal.
“I’m trying to play until I surpass Jerry [Rice],” he said. “That’s the goal, however long it takes. I feel like I’m capable of doing it. To come back from major ankle surgery and have this [quadriceps injury] is nothing.”
Beckham finished with 77 receptions for 1,052 yards and six touchdowns — he threw for two more — after signing a contract that guarantees him about $65 million. In his five seasons, he has 390 receptions for 5,476 yards and 44 touchdowns.
Rice, who played from 1985-2004, had 1,549 receptions for 22,895 yards and 197 TDs.
Beckham said he tried his best to get back on the field but “it just wasn’t going to happen.”
“Disappointed myself, teammates, everybody, just the whole community,” he said. “But on a positive note, it leaves a huge chip on my shoulder for next year . . . I think next year will be the best year I’ve had in my entire career.”
He added he plans to “bring my A, A, A-plus game next year. Like I said, I don’t care who’s in front of me next year. I’m coming, that’s just the bottom line.”
Does Beckham want Eli Manning to remain as quarterback?
“I love Eli,” he said. “At the end of the day, I want him to be able to go home and talk trash to his brothers. When it’s his time to go out, I want him to go out the right way. I want him to go out with a trophy so he can go home and — not rub it in their face — but he’s got three rings and they’ve got two, whatever it is. That’s how I want him to finish.
“It has nothing to do with me. It’s not my call. I’m just a receiver.”
(Actually, Eli’s older brothers, Peyton and Cooper, have two rings between them — both of which belong to Peyton. Cooper never played in the NFL.)
Beckham generally has steered clear of controversy this season, but he seemed to criticize Manning’s abilities in an interview with ESPN in early October.
In the aftermath of that episode, Shurmur cut off further questions about Beckham in a postgame news conference in Charlotte by announcing, “Finito!”
Beckham spoke to reporters for six minutes Friday. Then, upon hearing no further questions, he said “Finito?” and walked out of the locker room.
Notes & quotes: In addition to Beckham, LB Alec Ogletree (concussion), TE Rhett Ellison (concussion), WR Russell Shepard (ankle) and DL Mario Edwards (calf) are out.