Odell Beckham Jr.’s
Mood swings are killing the Giants
MINNEAPOLIS — The Giants didn’t lose to the Vikings 24-10 Monday night at U.S. Bank Stadium because of Odell Beckham Jr.
But their temperamental star receiver didn’t do a lot to help them amidst the headache-inducing, high-decibel noise inside the Vikings’ spectacular new stadium that looks like a spaceship ready for takeoff.
Instead of being a part of the solution, the Giants’ most explosive offensive player was part of the problem. On a night when the Giants needed every iota of composure they could muster if they were going to have a chance to win, their best playmaker was not up to the task.
Beckham, frustrated by the human-eraser job Vikings cornerback Xavier Rhodes was doing on him, was flagged for an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for taunting Rhodes on the sideline after he finally made his second of only three catches for 23 quiet yards on the night.
He was not even targeted by quarterback Eli Manning until a little more than seven minutes remained in the first half. By then, the Giants already trailed 14-0.
When Beckham caught his second pass, he got into Rhodes’ face and actually bumped into line judge Tony Symonette, and if Symonette opted to, he could have caused a lot more problems than a 15-yard penalty for Beckham.
After the game, the theme to Beckham’s comments was all about how the officiating and refereeing world is out to get him.
“I just have to know the scenario, that refs are looking to call anything [on me] and they’re not looking to call anything the other way,’’ Beckham said. “That’s just the position I’m in.’’
Asked if he got an explanation from the referees on the taunting penalty, Beckham said: “There’s no explanation, it’s just always my fault. That’s all I look at it as — that it’s just my fault. I just have to understand if I sneeze the wrong way, it’ll be a flag, it’ll be a fine. If I tie my shoe the wrong way, it might be a fine or a flag.’’
Beckham clearly believed he took a late hit from Rhodes, which is what set him off.
“It’s a man’s sport,’’ Beckham said. “You have to protect yourself at all times. I’m not going to be out there just taking hits. Things [with Rhodes] just got that way and I have to know where I’m at. I’ve got to know it’s all against me and it’s going to be that way. I have to assume that I’m always in the wrong no matter what. It’s a tough pill to swallow, but you have to understand it, you have to be able to cope with it.’’
Beckham’s teammates and coaches have to be tired of trying to help him cope with this. They pat him on the back on the sideline, sit with him on the bench and do all they can to calm him. But his behavior has become a touchy subject inside the Giants’ locker room.
“Next question,’’ Giants receiver Victor Cruz, one of the most affable players on the team, said tersely when asked by The Post if he spoke to Beckham on the sideline. “I’m not answering any Odell infraction questions.’’
After Beckham spoke to reporters, general manager Jerry Reese made it a point to speak privately with his star receiver and the two huddled for several minutes on stools in front of his locker.
The penalty was only one of a number of low points for Beckham for the night.
Later in the second quarter, he had his hands on a high Manning pass that was broken up by Rhodes on third-and-1. On the Giants’ opening offensive series of the third quarter, Beckham dropped a Manning pass near the sideline, taking eyes off the ball and trying to run before he had it secured.
Later in the third quarter, Manning tried to connect with Beckham on a long ball down the left sideline and, with Minnesota cornerback Terence Newman on him, Beckham failed to haul it in with his left hand when it looked like he could have gone for the ball with two hands.
To his credit, there were no more public outbursts by Beckham the rest of the game. But is this what we’ve come to with him, crediting him with having no more outbursts after the first one?
“As tough as it is to understand that for a 23-year-old that has been blessed with a lot — God has gifted me with an amazing amount of ability — it seems like it’s all working against you,’’ Beckham said. “But what are you going to do? Are you going to back down or are you going to stand up? I’ve never been one to back down.’’