<
>

Time for Odell Beckham Jr. to grow up

play
Is OBJ lacking in mental toughness? (2:09)

Stephen A. Smith sees Odell Beckham Jr.'s lack of professionalism as a sign of mental weakness while Max Kellerman sympathizes with the added pressure OBJ faces in New York. (2:09)

GREEN BAY, Wis. – The hole in the wall reportedly created by Odell Beckham Jr.’s fist was not the reason the New York Giants lost to the Green Bay Packers in their first playoff game in five years. His play on the field factored way more into the equation than a postgame hissy fit.

Two drops and several other passes that he normally catches that fell incomplete were detrimental to the Giants’ cause in a 38-13 loss to the Packers. The Giants had opportunities early to open a bigger lead and whiffed, leaving the door open for Aaron Rodgers to get going and crush the Giants’ playoff dreams.

That’s the skinny on Beckham’s on-field performance, which wasn’t up to par for such a high-level player in the playoff spotlight. Beckham’s first career postseason game was a dud, complete with a postgame incident that (again) reflects poorly on his maturity.

Really, this is the story of his 2016 season. When the Giants win, all is good. Beckham is catching touchdowns and making defenders look foolish.

When the Giants lose, there is always something with Beckham, whether it’s hitting the kicking net, losing his cool against the Minnesota Vikings, banging his head against the wall or complaining about the officials. There is always some sort of drama.

Well, it’s time to grow up. It’s time for the talented but mercurial wide receiver to get past these antics. He’s not a rookie anymore. He’s not an obscure player. He’s a role model to millions of young fans.

There are many players who want to win just as badly as Beckham. They’re able to keep their composure after games and don’t go around banging their heads or punching walls.

Beckham, 24, is young, but he’s not a rookie. He just completed his third professional season but is still making rookie mistakes off the field, including taking that Miami trip after the regular-season finale. No, it didn’t lead to his poor performance on Sunday in Green Bay, but it was a detriment to the Giants’ playoff run.

“I think it did a great job at creating distractions for us,” Beckham conceded after Sunday's loss. “And it’s unfortunate. That is just the way this world is. There is just no way you can connect something that happened seven days ago to [Sunday].”

Beckham finished his playoff debut with four catches for 28 yards on 11 targets. It tied for the second-worst yardage production in his career.

And then came the postgame shenanigans. After Beckham calmly and thoughtfully addressed the media, he unloaded his anger on a door and wall.

Passionate. Emotional. These are words used to describe Beckham. But so are petulant and childish. The drama follows him, whether it is on a boat in Miami or the bowels of Lambeau Field. By his third professional season you would have hoped he'd have learned to control his emotions, at the very least in the public eye.

The problem here is that the Pro Bowl receiver is a role model. He knows it. He has talked about it. But what kind of role model bangs his head against doors and punches holes in walls? Not one that I’d want my child to emulate.

This is one of the game’s most productive players falling short on really what should be the easiest of his assignments. The spotlight is on him no matter where he walks. He knows it. He also knows this playoff loss and his disappointing performance will linger. It can be erased only with a successful playoff performance. At best, that is a year away.

Beckham now will have to sit and think for a long time about what went wrong (on and off the field) in his first career playoff game. Dropped passes. A hole in the wall at Lambeau Field. An offseason of regret.

“I’m sure it’s going to be a long offseason,” he said. “At the end of the day, you just have to take it and you have to grow. You have to learn from it and find ways not to have this feeling again.”

It may take some introspection and internal adjustments to make that happen.