Virtually anything Odell Beckham Jr. does off the field becomes a story and, when you’re a superstar in New York, that’s part of the job description. When a photo of him with Victor Cruz, Sterling Shepard, Roger Lewis Jr. and Trey Songz on a boat in Maimi surfaced last Monday, it was bound to make waves.
Fair or not, the fact Beckham and the Giants’ receivers were partying in Miami six days before their first playoff-game in five years concerned more than a few people. Maybe Lawrence Taylor and the guys indulged similarly in the 1980’s, but they didn’t play in the age of social media where your every move is tracked and scrutinized. Beckham does, a fact he’s acutely aware of and even revels in.
To be clear, players are entitled to spend their off days however they so choose — as long as they produce on Sunday.
In the biggest game of his young-career, Beckham did not.
He was credited with a career-high three drops — including what would’ve been a Giants’ touchdown — against the Green Bay Packers. He finished the game with four receptions for 28 yards. OBJ was a total non-factor in the Giants’ 38-13 season-ending loss.
He wasn’t alone.
Sterling Shepard, another of the Miami boatmen, also dropped a potential touchdown pass early in the first-quarter. He and Victor Cruz combined to catch only seven passes, on 13 targets, for 90 yards. Head coach Ben McAdoo wasn’t too pleased by their performances, and is well within his right to criticize them publicly.
Ben McAdoo says Odell Beckham's ball skills weren't good enough. Same goes for all WRs #giants— Jordan Raanan (@JordanRaanan) January 9, 2017
Did the Giants lose this game solely because of Beckham and the receivers? No. But when you make yourself the story, don’t be surprised when the burden of blame lies prominently at your feet.
“It sucks. It’s a horrible feeling,” Beckham said, after the game.
Warming up shirtless in the Green Bay cold, making spectacular one-handed catches and moonwalking after scoring TDs all work — when you perform. They get old pretty fast when you don’t.
Their was a way to move past the ‘boat crew’ story: beat the Packers. The Giants failed to do so and, consequently, Beckham will have to bear the brunt of that backlash for an entire offseason.
“It’s a game of inches. We were just inches short on some of these plays,” Beckham, went on. “These are the learning experiences, as tough as they are.”
A few of Eli Manning’s throws were a bit off the mark, but they were plays susperstars get paid to make. Plays Beckham has made countless times before.
Maybe it’s a reach to suggest anything OBJ did with Justin Bieber in Miami took away from his game Sunday but, after such a poor showing, those questions will reemerge. And there’s nothing unfair about that.