Dez Bryant on Saturday defended Odell Beckham Jr. from criticism of his emotional outbursts, saying they show “the heart of a champion.” Along the way Bryant also took what could be interpreted as a shot at Beckham’s New York Giants teammates, saying “maybe they would do something special” if they cared as much as Beckham does.
"Whenever something doesn't go right, as far as a team loss, y'all don't like his actions, and all it is, is just him wanting to win the game," Bryant told ESPN after the NFC's Pro Bowl practice Saturday. "If more people were like that on his team, maybe they would do something special."
Beckham was criticized for several sideline or post-game incidents this season, including punching a hole in a wall after the Giants lost to the Green Bay Packers in their wild-card round playoff game.
GM Jerry Reese was blunt when asked about Beckham’s antics, including the trip to Miami after the Giants’ regular-season finale:
"We all had to grow up at different times in our lives. I think it's time for him to do that," Reese said. "He's been here for three years now. He's a little bit of a lightning rod because of what he does on the football field, but the things he does off the football field, he's got to be responsible for those things.”
Bryant has long been a lightning rod of sorts himself during his career with the Dallas Cowboys. He told ESPN he sees Beckham’s emotional outbursts differently:
"Especially him, the type of success that you run into, there's only one person able to understand it -- and that's him and that's me," Bryant said. "That's because we're the only people who get to see that. Nobody knows how to handle that type of stuff."
Beckham, for his part, said that he and Bryant have a unique friendship:
"I think we do the same for each other," Beckham said. "We're always giving advice. I could probably look back in my texts and there were times when stuff's going down and I'll be like, 'Let's try and do this and be better at this.' We're always a work in progress."
Beckham and Bryant are teammates this week in the Pro Bowl, which will be held Sunday night.