Should New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. tone down some of the showy on-field antics that added attention, and added drama, to his spectacular 2014 rookie season? Giants coach Tom Coughlin wants him to. Hall of Fame wide receiver Michael Irvin believes the Giants would make a mistake by asking him to.
Appearing before reporters on Thursday at the Quest Diagnostics Training Center, Beckham said he hopes to learn how to eliminate "a lot of the unnecessary stuff" from his actions.
"Taking my helmet off or doing anything to draw more attention than what is necessary are definitely things I need to work on, but it is just so hard when you are so passionate about something. It is hard to control your emotions," Beckham said. "The biggest thing for me is just controlling my emotions and doing whatever we need to do to win."
Beckham, still just 22, had a couple of memorable incidents during games last season. During a game against the St. Louis Rams, physical play by the Rams led to a brawl that resulted in two Giants players being ejected. During a game against the Philadelphia Eagles, Beckham slammed his helmet to the ground after not getting a call on what he felt should have been pass interference.
"You are not going to get every call. Not everything is going to go your way, but that is football and it comes with it, so just learning how to stay as composed as possible," Beckham said.
"It is a tough line not to cross when you care so much about something; it gets the best of you. I think it is just a learning process. I was still young, very young. I think it comes with age and time."
Will trying to reign in some of the histrionics impact Beckham in a negative way? Irvin may think think so, but the Giants don't. Nor do I. Everyone wants to see the young man go on and have the brilliant, historic career he hinted at last season. No one wants to see him annoy the opposition, place a target on his back and take unnecessary physical punishment that could lead to injury. No one wants to see him end up with a "diva" reputation and become notable for things that have nothing to do with his incredible talent.
Coughlin told reporters after the Rams game that he wants to help Beckham "avoid some of the pot holes, if you will, that occur for young guys."
"I think the one thing is that every time Odell plays, he learns more about the National Football League and he learns about the way in which he is being interpreted, some good, some bad. He continues to try and want to do things the right way," Coughlin said. "I want everyone to realize the quality of the young man, and not be offset by some of things that he has done. He looked at me and said, ‘Coach, stay after me.' He wants to learn and he wants to continue to improve and be better. I think he will and I think going forward, as he understands the professional game, that he will understand that some of the things that take place give the wrong message or send the wrong message."
It has to be interpreted as a positive sign that Beckham wants to take Coughlin's message to heart.
David Tyree, Giants director of player development and a guy who knows something about instant fame, told Ralph Vacchiano of the Daily News that Beckham is doing fine in handling all of the attention:
"I think he's making the right decisions," Tyree added. "If he could navigate this first year, I have more reasons to have confidence that he'll continue to grow, mature and make better decisions. He wants to be a leader. He plays with fire. He's never been a problem kid. So I think considering what he's encountering, he's doing extremely well."
Beckham meets Beckham
Beckham, who grew up playing soccer, said the highlight of his offseason was meeting soccer superstar David Beckham.
Beckham said it was "surreal" meeting David Beckham and that the soccer legend jokingly told him to "keep up the family name."