What the New York Giants want for Odell Beckham Jr. -- shoot, what everyone should want -- is for the incredibly gifted second-year wide receiver to learn to harness the emotion and edge he plays with to allow his talent to shine rather than to overshadow it.
The way I have put it in recent days, including during a recent "Big Blue Chat" podcast, is that Beckham needs to be able to answer the taunts and overly physical play from opponents with talent rather than his temper.
Will the one-game suspension he just served for his actions during a game two weeks ago against the Carolina Panthers help the 23-year-old superstar see that?
Beckham returned to practice Wednesday for the first time since being reinstated from the suspension. Reports from the small portion of practice reporters are allowed to see were that Beckham was more subdued than usual. When he met with reporters on Wednesday he seemed determined to try and reign in some of the extra-curricular stuff that ended up leading to his suspension.
"I don't think I'm going to change the way that I play, but I think I'll change the actions that were on the field that Sunday," Beckham said. "It's not what we should be doing, it's not what I would want to represent the Giants as, and like I said, most importantly it's not something that I would want the kids looking up to and learning from me that way. That's definitely not what I want to put out there for them."
The helmet-to-helmet hit by Beckham on Josh Norman was the culmination of something that has been brewing since the tail end of the 2014 season. Beckham instigated a brawl against the St. Louis Rams by kicking Rams linebacker Alec Ogletree in response to an overly aggressive hit out of bounds. He was fined earlier this year for throwing punches during a game against the Buffalo Bills.
"It's just unfortunate. You never want to do that on the field. There's so much more that's going on just to be caught up in such a moment," Beckham said on Wednesday. "Like I said, it's not something that I would want to put my team in that position and I wouldn't want to give that influence to kids.
"Actually the other day, two kids came up to me and they were just talking about everything that happened, and I just told them no matter what, you're always responsible for your own actions, and you can only control what you can control, and the rest is really out of your hands. For the most part, make sure to take control of what you can."
Beckham is a franchise-changing player, a once in a decade talent. He can be the centerpiece around whom the Giants, out of the playoffs now for four straight seasons, retool their roster. If he is going to help them out of the darkness, though, Beckham must learn to channel his emotions into things that help rather than hurt his team.
The Giants and Beckham saw what life can be like without him on Sunday when receivers getting open looked like a foreign concept during a 49-17 loss to the Minnesota Vikings.
"I learned from my actions and I take responsibility for them," Beckham said. "I think things like this help you grow and they help you mature and like I said, you learn from it and you move on. In life you're taught so many lessons, good or bad, and you learn from it and grow."
The Giants can only hope this helps Beckham grow into a player who helps a franchise stuck in neutral get headed in the right direction again.