Odell Beckham Jr. is in the Giants’ doghouse.
The wide receiver’s antics after scoring his first touchdown of the season Sunday have drawn the scorn of the team’s powerful patriarch, CEO and co-owner John Mara.
“I do not want to get into a discussion about this, but I will say that I am very unhappy with Odell’s behavior on Sunday and we intend to deal with it internally,” Mara said in a statement the team released Tuesday. It was what he said in an email to the New York Post earlier in the day.
It is the first indication that the team is disturbed not just by the immediate result of Beckham’s actions — a 15-yard penalty that forced the Giants to kick off from deep in their own territory on the ensuing play — but the optics of them.
Ben McAdoo, on a conference call Monday, did not pass any judgment on Beckham’s celebration.
“It’s real simple,” McAdoo said. “I don’t want to kick off from the 20-yard line. It doesn’t help our team. It makes it tough on the players who are covering the kick and it makes an impact on field position.”
Asked if the organization was embarrassed by it, he said: “I just gave you my response.”
The sideshow stems from Beckham crawling on the ground like a dog and then lifting his leg in the back of the end zone following a touchdown catch in the fourth quarter of Sunday’s loss to the Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia.
Mara rarely addresses in-season football topics publicly, but quarterback Eli Manning downplayed the significance of it when he spoke Tuesday.
“That’s part of football,” Manning said. “You get penalized, there’s a chance there’s going to be people that are unhappy, whether it’s the owner, the head coach or other players. Can’t afford penalties.”
Manning also said he is not unhappy with Beckham and does not feel the need to talk to him about the situation.
“I want him to go out there and play hard, obviously,” he said. “It’s part of being smart in all aspects of penalties. I don’t think unhappy is the word. Just everybody has to be a little smarter, and in this situation, when things are tough and we’re trying to find ways to get wins and we have to grind and we’re catching some bad breaks and things aren’t going our way, we can’t afford to make it harder on ourselves.”
Fellow Giants receiver Brandon Marshall also was lenient on Beckham.
“Odell’s creative, and now we know the rules,” he said. “We know that it’s a flag and we’ll continue to be smart about our celebrations. But Odell’s a smart guy and our best player and he needs to continue to perform at a high level and have fun while he’s doing it.”
This may not be the first time McAdoo seemingly excused Beckham’s on-the-field behavior only to have his bosses do the dirty work for him. In 2015, when McAdoo was the team’s offensive coordinator, he condoned Beckham’s actions against then-Panthers cornerback Josh Norman that eventually led to Beckham’s one-game suspension by the NFL. McAdoo at the time of the incident said he liked Beckham “salty” and, just like this week, was more concerned with the 15-yard penalties than the optics of the behavior.
By the time McAdoo was interviewing with Mara for the vacant head-coaching job several weeks later, he had changed his perspective on it and said he thought he should have done more during that game from the sideline.
Beckham was not available to the media Tuesday and is expected to speak Wednesday. On Monday, Beckham hinted on social media that it might have been a politically motivated pantomime meant to reference President Trump’s calling a player who kneels during the national anthem a “son of a (expletive).”
“I’m a dog, so I acted like a dog,” Beckham said after the game.
That context, if it was indeed the root of his four-legged act, was lost on many who saw the celebration and found it troubling and in poor taste, and it has done little to defend it in the court of public opinion.
Or, it seems, “internal” opinion, either.