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Can Victor Cruz be a positive influence on Odell Beckham Jr.?

Veteran has had similar experiences in terms of stardom and attention

NFL: New York Giants-OTA Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

The Odell Beckham-Josh Norman feud isn’t going away, and may in fact only be escalating. The constant gossip column chatter about every move Beckham makes off the field isn’t going away, either. When it comes to Beckham’s future, those things have to concern the New York Giants.

Can Beckham, when he faces Norman and the Washington Redskins twice per year, keep his emotions in check? Can he use his talent and not his mouth, helmet or fists to try and win the matchup? With all of the outside distractions, can he focus on football and not allow everything else that tugs at him to impact his play on the field?

This is where a healthy Victor Cruz could be of tremendous value to the Giants. As much as everyone around the Giants would love to see Cruz reach his goal “to be my old self again,” it is perhaps as a friend, mentor and sounding board for Beckham where Cruz could be of even more value to the Giants.

There is perhaps no player in the NFL, and definitely no player with the Giants, who has come closer to walking in Beckham’s shoes than Cruz. Fast, overwhelming stardom on the field. Adulation from fans and a constant pull from attention-seekers and those who want a piece of him off the field. Jealousy from opposing players. Cruz has lived it all.

As Cruz began his latest comeback attempt on Friday, he was also asked how he can help Beckham learn to handle the minefield of attention that awaits his every move.

“Just understand that he’s going to be pulled and tugged just like we all are to do a bunch of things, but he has to be smart and understand that it’s okay to say no sometimes, whether on or off the field, to these obligations and understand what his priorities are,” Cruz said. “I think he understands that and he’s becoming slowly but surely a professional in understanding the rights and wrongs of this game and the rights and wrongs of his craft. I think it’s just going to take more and more repetition and more and more time day in and day out to understand what’s good and what’s bad. Right now, in between these lines, he understands what his job is.”

Beckham has been in the headlines for being seen with Zendaya, Khloe Kardashian and most recently Demi Lovato, for living at Drake’s house for part of the offseason, for being overwhelmed by fan adulation in Germany and for his war of words with Norman.

Cruz said he thinks Beckham, still only 23, understands that his success has made him a target on and off the field.

“I think he understands that, so he just has to understand how to combat that, how to talk to you guys, how to talk to people out in the streets because anything he says is going to be used as a headline, so he has to understand not just what he says but how he says it and who he says it to and understanding what he says can be used as a headline at any given moment,” Cruz said.

“I think he understands that this past year since last season has been a little bit of a whirlwind in that regard and he understands that. He wants people to know him for him and how he’s a great player, great person and how he wants to be perceived and I think he has really taken charge of that.”

Cruz also said that Beckham needs to learn to “temper” his on-field emotions and that it is up to him and quarterback Eli Manning to help him.

“I think it takes people like myself and people like Eli and other leaders on the team to just come up to him and be like, ‘Hey man, we got your back. You don’t need to go above and beyond as to what is being asked of you to do,’ or ‘Go out here and be the great player that you are,’ but guys like myself need to tell him not to worry about anything and go out here and play. Everything will take care of itself and we got your back,” Cruz said.