GREEN BAY, Wis. — Odell Beckham Jr. made up with an old nemesis.
“We hugged it out,” the Giants receiver said of his embrace with the kicking net on the sideline after his 8-yard touchdown reception late in the fourth quarter Sunday night.
It was a reconciliation with the piece of equipment that he attacked in the fourth quarter of the Washington game two weeks ago. When he hit the kicking net with his helmet, it fell and hit him in the right side of the head. That branded him as an out-of-control player, a distraction, and placed him at the center of two weeks of intense scrutiny.
“Last time, I hit him and he hit me back,” Beckham said, anthropomorphizing the net. “I told him it was a good hit. I said from now on, we can be friends. It is what it is. You gotta have fun, gotta have fun.”
That, Beckham said, was the biggest lesson he took away from his experiences these past few weeks and this week in particular.
“Smile and have fun,” he said of his approach in this game, a 23-16 loss to the Packers. “Never let anyone steal your joy. This is what I love doing. It’s cool, all the other stuff that comes outside of it, but you play to leave a legacy. You play for bigger things than just scoring touchdowns. You play to win. I hate losing games more than I even enjoy a win. I can’t sit here and tell you I enjoy wins, because there is always something to critique. And it’s tough. But I don’t think there’s anything different besides maybe the camera wasn’t following me as much.”
Beckham was targeted 12 times and caught five passes for 56 yards. More significantly to many viewers, his game was without controversy. He was flagged for one penalty for an illegal shift and was a model citizen in terms of on- and off-field behavior. Even after his touchdown, he sprinted to the Giants’ sideline without celebrating.
Despite living in the spotlight since last week’s loss to the Vikings in which he was flagged for a taunting penalty, Beckham said he actually enjoyed the last few days before the game against the Packers.
“They’ve been great,” he said. “Sometimes you just have to go through some things to give you a greater appreciation of it all. Being able to come here on a Sunday night to Lambeau, I mean, it’s literally a blessing to be on the field. Sometimes you just have to put things into perspective. My week’s been probably one of the better weeks I’ve had. It’s been a short week, too. Amnesia. I don’t remember. So just keep it moving, man.”
Asked if the Packers tried to get under his skin, something Washington and Minnesota seemed to do successfully, Beckham shrugged.
“I don’t really know what that means,” he said. “Getting under your skin, you mean doing better than your opponent? I don’t know. They came out and played football, we came out and played football, and they played better football.”