Indeed, beyond his athletic splendor, the world loves Odell Beckham Jr. for his outsized persona, for his wild white mane, for his TD dances, for his white-hot emotion every Sunday. But when it comes to getting what he wants most - even more than attention - and that would be an epic contract from the New York Giants, Bekcham needs to chill out.
Beckham has been quite vociferous about his desire to cash-in on his transcendent talent, especially when he sees his peers - most notably Buccaneers WR Mike Evans - get big-time extensions. Tampa Bay inked Evans to a five-year, $82 million deal, with $55 million guaranteed. Jarvis Landry, Beckham's teammate at LSU, just signed a five-year, $75 million deal with the Browns, $47 million of which is guaranteed. And if you take Beckham's rhetoric literally, he may ask for double those digits.
So while Evans will make over $16 million per year, Beckham will make $8.5 million this year...and he's hardly thrilled about it. Beckham is surfing the social media wave, assuring us he "won't set foot on the field" this year unless he gets his money. But it's just unwise to try to strong-arm an NFL franchise, especially one with old-world sensibilities of the Giants. In other words, for the purposes of getting paid, we're asking Beckham to not be Beckham for a while. At least off the field.
No more demands. No more greedy tweets. No more pics with French models and white powders. Be all about your business, Odell. It's part of the grueling dichotomy we demand of our NFL stars. Be monsters on Sunday then modest on Monday. We hear about the crimes and misdemeanors more than the silent charity from the masses. The truth is way more NFL players are family men and modest citizens, even if the headlines don't reflect it. Perhaps the most gruesome cliche in the newspaper business is, "If it bleeds, it leads." It's also true. While we love the bad boys of sports, and just gobble up any Page Six or police blotter fodder we can find, we also curse them for it, which speaks to our own neuroses.
Even on a smaller, more legal level, we'd rather talk about the latest spastic gyrations from the wideout than the tidy, ten tackles from the team's All-Pro linebacker. Enter Beckham, who has no rap sheet, but on a cultural level has often pushed the limits of good taste, including a time when he mimicked a dog urinating in an end zone. We also have his Mike Tyson meltdown against Josh Norman.
The Giants can forgive all that if he keeps posting historic stats. The first three years of Beckham's career were the best any wideout has ever had. Then, between injuries and dubious decisions during his convalescence, he's too often found himself on the wrong side of John Mara's mood. The Giants don't like being told what to do, whom to sign, or for what amount, even with someone as absurdly gifted as Beckham.
For all his faux pas, the Giants have universally expressed keen interest in keeping Beckham. First, he's that good. Second, his sense of showmanship attracts eyes, fills seats, and sucks in dollars. The key demo isn't as muted as it was 30 or 40 years ago. Beckham is part of the new cultural motif, with little regard to old-school aesthetics. But if he can find a way to be quiet - at least as quiet as he can be - and play like he already has, then he will command Antonio Brown bank.
We often hear that pro football is a business, so don't make it personal. But even the best players and the richest owners are still human. Beckham's demands could chafe the Giants into a lowball contract offer, or worse, let him walk and pocket the $100 million. The Giants could sign several free agents for the same price. In fact, some would argue that you win football games inside-out, starting with your offensive line, then work your way to the sidelines. NFL champions aren't centered around wide receivers.
But Beckham is more than a wide receiver, or even a football player. And he knows it. Unfortunately, he can't keep from reminding us with great frequency. But if he can stop reminding the Giants until the end of 2018, and let his play be his primary expression, he should get everything he wants.