There has been much written in the media already about Odell Beckham Jr. skipping out on a scheduled media session Thursday, and via social media much said by New York Giants wondering why media members are whining so much about the star wide receiver not talking to them.
Well, since I was there I feel like I have to put in my $.02 on the whole 'Beckham blows off the media' thing.
Let's just stop with the notion that media members are whining, that anyone in the media is saying 'how dare he do this to us?', or trying to take shots at the young man. That isn't the case, and if you think it is then the rest of whatever is written in this space isn't going to mean anything to you.
You know what? No doubt it was a pain in the backside expecting Beckham to speak in the locker room on Thursday, standing around for roughly 45 minutes with little to do but stare at Beckham's empty locker. But, no one cares about that. Nor should they. And media members didn't mention it on social media or write it in their stories to rip Beckham. They mentioned it because it happened, because they were disappointed, and because they wanted their readers and followers to know they weren't going to be able to bring them a story they had hoped to provide. There's no anti-Beckham agenda there.
There is concern for the young man, a 22-year-old who has fame and stardom already, but also has fragile hamstrings preventing him from doing the thing he loves to do most -- play football.
Beckham had recently made some curious comments to ESPN about not liking some ribbing he had received from teammates about his latest hamstring injury. He was sure to be asked about that, of course, and about the status of his hamstring. Could he or would he offer reassurance to the fan base that there aren't any big concerns on either front? What we're left with, instead, are more questions.
Everyone understands Beckham's immense talent, and that the instant celebrity that has come with it is a lot for a 22-year-old kid to process and to handle. There is concern for Beckham, both about his troublesome hamstrings and about his seemingly distant demeanor.
Ebenezer Samuel of the Daily News said Beckham's recent remarks about his teammates were "thin-skinned," called Beckham's absence from the locker room on Thursday "conspicuous" and said the receiver is "increasingly mercurial."
Tara Sullivan of The Record expressed some tempered worry about Beckham this way:
Was the second-year pro wrong to duck questions about his ongoing hamstring troubles, an opposite leg occurrence of the injury that delayed (but didn't dampen) his NFL debut a year ago, that kept him out of full participation in this minicamp? He probably was. Beckham has already done enough to raise eyebrows about his maturity level, from on-field outbursts last year that cost him too many yellow flags, to comments in an ESPN story earlier this week that he is bothered by teammates ribbing him for missing more practice time. But the leap from mild concern to this knee-jerk portrait of him as a selfish diva is far too great to make just yet.
The actual subject of Sullivan's post was Victor Cruz, and how Cruz is trying to help Beckham navigate the minefield of expectations that come with sudden stardom. It is, of course, a place Cruz has been.
The contrast between Beckham and Cruz was stark on Thursday. Beckham never appeared in the locker room despite the public relations staff promising he would speak to the media. Cruz stood at his locker and answered redundant questions from multiple waves of reporters, then did several one-on-one interviews. He gave an answer to every question, and turned no one who wanted a minute or two of his time away.
All anyone wanted from Beckham on Thursday is what they had been promised -- a few minutes to answer a handful of questions that needed to be asked. Perhaps there was a good reason Beckham was unable to meet the media. Let's hope there was.
No one in the media wants to take Beckham down. All anyone wanted on Thursday was a little reassurance from him, and they didn't get it. That's the story. Not the media's unhappiness.