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Padanilam: Odell Beckham Jr. needs to grow up

| Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Over the last two years, New York Giants receiver Odell Beckham Jr. has captivated fans across the NFL. His physical skills are undeniable, and he’s made the one-handed catch an expectation rather than a luxury. Simply put, he has the tools to be one of greatest, if not the greatest, receivers to ever play the game.

But over the final weeks of last season and the first few weeks of this season, it has become clear that reality will never reach that potential for the wideout. And that’s because Beckham Jr. has shown himself to be out of touch with the reality of the mental barrier he seems to face every time he takes the field.

His immaturity first showed itself on the field last year, when he squared off with then-Carolina Panther’s cornerback Josh Norman in a battle that won’t soon be forgotten. Norman didn’t necessarily keep up with Beckham Jr. with his play, but he got into his head. And that’s all he needed to do to get Beckham Jr. off his game. He dropped just over three percent of all his targets last season, but in that game alone he dropped two catches that could have perhaps propelled the Giants to a win in a game they ultimately lost.

But many thought this incident was a mere anomaly. Well, at least until this season.

Now, the narrative of this season for both Beckham Jr. and the Giants has been his temper tantrums, both on and off the field, that have become a distraction for the team. Whether it has been the image of him slamming his helmet on the ground, picking up unsportsmanlike conduct penalties or losing fights to kicking nets, Beckham Jr. has been the center of attention in New York for the last two weeks, and in both cases the Giants have suffered as a result.

In a tight game against the Washington Redskins just two Sundays ago, both Giants head coach Ben McAdoo and quarterback Eli Manning had to devote time on the sidelines — time that could have been better spent making in-game adjustments in order to win — consoling a distraught Beckham Jr. and handling what amounted to a temper tantrum a young child would’ve been embarrassed of.

Then, the Giants spent all week having to answer questions about the incident. McAdoo recognized it as a distraction and essentially acknowledged a need for Beckham Jr. to mature on the field. But the wideout denied it was a distraction for his team, telling reporters that he wasn’t going to change who he was on the field and his passion for the game.

And again, after Monday night’s loss to the Minnesota Vikings, Beckham Jr. and the Giants once again had to answer those same questions due to his unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for taunting during the game, controversial as it might have been. And again, he denied his antics as being distracting, rather putting the blame on everyone else by arguing the referees, media and NFL are “all working against [him].”

But what Beckham Jr. seems unwilling to understand with that statement is that he needs to grow up. His statement shows him to be out of touch with the reality that is professional sports and his role in it: Everyone wants to win and dominate while doing so, but he’s the only who can’t seem to handle adversity when it’s thrown his way.

Just yesterday he reportedly said he’s “not having fun anymore” playing football due to the attention being paid to his behavior during games. And his head coach, quarterback and teammates had to answer more questions about this — questions brought on by his behavior, his being out of touch with reality and his immaturity.

If Beckham Jr. fails to come to terms with the reality of the situation, he will continue to be a distraction for his team. And he may just leave the Giants no choice but to bench him until he grows up.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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About Benjamin Padanilam

Ben is a senior and The Observer’s former Editor-in-Chief, now serving as its interim Sports Editor. He is in the Program of Liberal Studies (PLS) and also pursuing minors in Philosophy, Politics and Economics (PPE) and Business Economics. He hails from Toledo, Ohio, and has enjoyed the few highs and many lows of being a Cleveland sports fan.

Contact Benjamin