How bad did things get during the Giants' dismal loss Thursday to the Eagles? Well, at one point, Odell Beckham Jr. headbutted and punched a fan.
Okay, fine, it wasn’t THAT type of fan, thank goodness. In fact, that could be seen as one of the few positives from New York’s 34-13 home defeat — at least it was an inanimate object bearing the brunt of the wide receiver’s apparent … frustration? Happiness? It wasn’t entirely clear, but after his criticism Sunday of the Giants' offense, and of quarterback Eli Manning’s play in particular, Beckham continued to make news for actions other than catching footballs.
It was a bit hard to tell what sort of emotion provoked the third-quarter display, in which Beckham went over to a large industrial fan on the sideline, one marked prominently with the Giants' logo, and gave it a nice right-left-right combination. Oh, and in the midst of an NFC East showdown, he paid an homage of sorts to Gus Frerotte by head-butting it first.
On one hand, Beckham had previously given an indication of ongoing discontent by walking to the locker room before the first half ended — while his offense was still on the field — but on the other, his show of pugilistic prowess came just after teammate Saquon Barkley scored New York’s only touchdown. The Fox Sports telecast subsequently showed Barkley — a rookie, as announcer Joe Buck made sure to point out — appearing to calm an amped-up Beckham.
If Beckham was unhappy, he had some reason to be, as not only did his Giants quickly fall behind the Eagles, he was a nonentity in the first half, catching just two passes for 12 yards before finishing with a mere 44 yards on six grabs. That represented a reversion to his usage earlier in the season, when Manning was seemingly unable to connect with him downfield, a problem he cited in comments broadcast by ESPN before Sunday’s Giants-Panthers game.
Asked then by the network’s Josina Anderson whether he had “an issue at quarterback,” Beckham’s first reply was a decidedly non-supportive, “I don’t know.” He added, “I feel like I’m being outschemed, and then I also don’t have a chance to, like, do something where I’ve got to take a slant and go 60. And not to say that’s not fun, but it’s like I want some easy touchdowns too. I watch everybody across the league. All the top receivers get the ball the way that they, you know, should. And if they don’t, they say something about it.”
After saying something about it, reportedly to the considerable ire of Giants Coach Pat Shurmur, Beckham got the squeaky-wheel treatment at Carolina, catching eight passes for 131 yards and a score, and even throwing a touchdown pass to Barkley. On Thursday, however, it was back to a less productive outing, which seemed to provide some possible context to Beckham’s departure as Manning and Co. were preparing to throw one final pass at the end of the second quarter.
After the game, though, Shurmur told reporters that Beckham left the field early because he was dehydrated and needed an IV, an apparent repeat of a situation that had arisen earlier in the season. For his part, Beckham may have been referring to the 1-5 hole in which the Giants now find themselves when he told reporters that he and his teammates had some “digging” to do.
“Put your head down, and just keep digging,” he said. “Keep digging away and work harder — that’s really all you can do.”
As noted on the telecast, this was not the first time an emotional Beckham took a swing at an inanimate object on the Giants’ sideline. During a game against the Redskins in 2016, he attempted to take out some midgame frustrations on a kicking net, only to have it whack him right back.
Later that season, he embraced a kicking net after scoring a touchdown against the Packers, and he capped the trilogy by pretending to propose to one after a late score against the Ravens. Of course, that was a happier time for Beckham, who made the Pro Bowl his first three years in the NFL as he rocketed to superstardom.
That 2016 campaign, though, ended with an ugly playoff loss at Green Bay, after which Beckham reportedly punched a hole in a wall outside of the Giants' locker room, the door of which he was said to have banged his head against. Five games into the following season, he fractured his left ankle, then spent most of the offseason in a disgruntled state over his contract.
New York eventually relented and made Beckham the NFL’s highest-paid wide receiver, but not before using the No. 2 overall draft pick on Barkley, who is now very much the centerpiece of the offense, especially with the 37-year-old Manning looking like his career is rapidly coming to its close. Add in the team’s quickly fading postseason hopes, and it’s fair to guess that Beckham isn’t exactly the biggest fan of everything that’s happened with the Giants of late.
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