Victor Cruz wants Odell Beckham Jr. to stop with the tantrums.
Whether it is swinging his helmet at a kicking net in a game against Washington, banging his head against a metal door after a loss in Philadelphia, or allegedly punching a hole in the wall in Green Bay following an early playoff exit, Cruz said Tuesday that Beckham’s career may come up short if he continues to flash those fits of anger and violence.
“I think he’s on track to reach his full potential,” Cruz said in a WFAN radio interview, “but having those outbursts are going to hinder him in some regard whether it’s continued negative press or whatever the case may be. He has to find a way to just control himself and not do those things in such an angry regard coming after games like that.”
Cruz said he’s fine with the source of the frustration that often bubbles up from his talented teammate.
“He is very, very hard on himself, almost to a fault,” Cruz said. “I can’t deny that, everyone sees that. He’s extremely hard on himself, he demands the best from himself, and when he feels like that demand wasn’t met, he acts on that. His acts may not be positive in terms of how it’s reported and made a lot larger than what it is, but we understand that and I understand what type of person he is. I don’t think anyone is worried about anything other than making sure he’s healthy and ready to go come next year.”
That may not be entirely true. General manager Jerry Reese said Monday that Beckham needs to “grow up” and described him as “a smart guy, but sometimes he doesn’t do smart things.”
“(He) is a little bit of a lightning rod because of what he does on the football field,” Reese said, “but the things he does off the football field, he has to be responsible for those things, and we will talk through it.”
Cruz spoke about what a “great teammate” Beckham is and the character he has on the field. He spoke about him lifting other players’ spirits in the locker room, whether they are going through on- or off-field issues.
“That’s the Odell that I’m used to, that’s the Odell that I see every day,” he said.
The rest of the world, though, sees only the amazing catches and the angry outbursts.
“That perception is what lives with (fans) week in and week out,” Crus said. “I see him every day in those moments when it’s not about the game and not the hoopla that goes on on social media, it’s about taking care of business. That’s the Odell that I know and the Odell that I’m friends with.”
As for the trip to Miami on the Monday before the playoff game — which everyone saw thanks to social media posts — Cruz said he’s not worried about his own image or the organization being tarnished for his participation in the getaway.
“Obviously, being lumped into the entire scenario, I’m an adult and I understood exactly what I was getting myself into,” Cruz said. “This isn’t something that was a mystery to me or something I was shocked at. I understood where we were going and what we were doing, but it was all on our day off and in good fun. There’s nothing wrong with that. It gets really overhyped for whatever reason, but we have to understand where we play football.”
Cruz, 30, also spoke about his future with the Giants, which is in question because of the economics of his current contract and his role as a third receiver behind Beckham and Sterling Shepard.
“I feel good about my chances of coming back,” he said. “That’s always where my inkling goes, where my thought process is. Because that’s like home for me. I wake up, OTA season comes around, and I go and punch the clock like I do year in and year out. That’s always my first gut feeling. But this business is exactly that, a business, so I have to go into this understanding all aspects of it and at the same time making the best decision for me and my family.”
Cruz caught 39 passes for 586 yards with one touchdown in the regular season, playing in 15 games.
“I think I did well coming off of two years of injuries,” he said after missing most of 2014 and all of 2015 with knee and calf surgeries. “I feel like I showed some explosiveness, some play-making ability and some catching ability. I’m excited for what’s to come and excited by what I put on film this year.”
If he’s not back with the Giants, Cruz said he will play elsewhere.
“Football will continue for Victor Cruz,” he said. “This isn’t me throwing in the towel.”