Odell Beckham Jr. had been on his best public behavior for the Giants this season, but the volatile receiver shattered that calm in an interview with ESPN in which he seemed to question the team’s heart, energy and offensive strategy.
The full interview, conducted earlier in the week by Josina Anderson – with Beckham sitting beside rapper Lil Wayne — is to appear on Sunday, but in a clip made public Friday he said (among other things), “We just need to play with some heart.”
“When everybody leaves [in the NFL] they’ve got a family, they’ve got a wife, they’ve got kids to go home to,” he said. “I don’t have that, so I try and build that relationship with my teammates because I want to know who am I going to war with every day. When the heat’s on, who is this person outside of just being at work?
“So a lot of it has to do with the energy that we have, that we don’t bring every single day. And you know me, I’m a passionate, energetic person. I always have to have that. If I don’t it’s going to be a problem for me. And just playing with some heart, like we just need to play with some heart.
“We’re only 1-3. The year we went 11-5 [in 2016], we were 2-3. We ended up being 2-3 after five games. So you never know when you can go on a run. But It’s just a matter of when we’re going to go on a run. How come we can’t throw the ball for more than 20 yards? How come we don’t attempt or try to throw the ball for more than 20 yards?
“Those are questions that we have to figure out, but for now I would say it’s our heart, it’s our energy. It’s what we bring when we line up before the game, all of that, that counts.”
Beckham spoke to reporters on Thursday but did not on Friday, even after coach Pat Shurmur suggested on multiple occasions that reporters go to him for clarification on his remarks.
Quarterback Eli Manning saw reporters approaching his locker, turned around and said simply, “No.”
Over his 15 seasons in New York it has been an extreme rarity for him to decline interview requests at newsworthy moments.
At around 5 p.m., Beckham posted a tweet that read, "I give it my all everyday n that won’t ever stop, GIANTSSS we gon get this thing done togetherrr. Beeeluhdatt #OwnOctober."
Shurmur said he had spoken with Beckham but would not specify whether it was related to Beckham’s comments to ESPN.
“I do know this: Our team has a heck of a lot of heart; our team plays with a lot of energy,” Shurmur said. “What we haven’t done is we haven’t really executed quite as well as we need to yet . . . But these guys have a ton of heart, including Odell, and a lot of want-to.”
As for throwing the ball downfield, Shurmur said the team will continue trying to do so as part of its offensive mix.
When asked whether Beckham will be disciplined, Shurmur said, “For what? I would say this: I think I clarified what I think the answer might have been and you just need to clarify with him what he meant.”
Beckham, who signed a five-year, $95-million contract in late August, has not scored a touchdown this season. He discussed Thursday the importance of energy and “the way that we all vibe and bond together.” He added, “There’s definitely still good energy here.”
Fellow receiver Sterling Shepard said Friday, “I feel like guys are having energy throughout the week. I think what he’s talking about is just before the game some guys are different. Some guys want to sit at their locker and look over plays. Some guys want to get rowdy. That’s what kind of personality he has, and that’s what he likes to see.”
Notes and Quotes: It appeared on Thursday that LB Olivier Vernon (ankle) would make his regular-season debut against the Panthers on Sunday, but he missed practice and is out, along with TE Evan Engram. “He was close, but not quite close enough,” Shurmur said. Might he be ready Oct. 11 against the Eagles? “I’m optimistic,” the coach said. “I felt really good about this week, too.”