Giants owner wants Odell Beckham to make headlines on field
NEW YORK -- Giants owner John Mara is unhappy about all aspects of his team's 1-5 start, and he definitely didn't enjoy star wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr.'s televised interview with ESPN's Josina Anderson two Sundays ago.
"I wish he would create the headlines by his play on the field as opposed to what he says and what he does off the field," Mara said Tuesday during a break at the NFL owners meetings. "I think he needs to do a little more playing and a little less talking."
Beckham signed a five-year, $90 million contract extension with the Giants shortly before the season started.
During a wide-ranging interview with ESPN that included rapper Lil Wayne, Beckham vented his frustration over the team's slow start and the way the offense was functioning, and he even made comments that didn't reflect well on starting quarterback Eli Manning. At the time of the interview, the Giants were 1-3. They have lost both of their games since then and are 1-5 for the second season in a row.
"I'm still embarrassed being 1-5," Mara said. "I can't stand up here and make any excuses about that. You are what your record says you are, as a wise man once said, and there's nothing I can say to make people feel better about that. I'm suffering just as much as our fans are, probably more."
Mara voiced confidence in first-year head coach Pat Shurmur and first-year general manager Dave Gettleman, saying, "I have confidence that we have the right guys in the building to get it to work."
On Tuesday afternoon, Shurmur was asked about Mara's comments about the Giants' record.
"I don't like it either. I'm disappointed we're 1-5 and we're working to correct that," he said. "I've said this before, when we lose ball games I'm disappointed for our players, our coaches, our fans and also our administration. That includes John. I know the feeling."
Shurmur has been dealing with Beckham questions for some time now.
"I've addressed the Odell stuff," he said. "Listen, Odell is a member of the New York Giants football team. And we're going to work with every player to become the best they can be, not only on the field but off the field. When things happen, we talk behind the scene and we're trying to make everybody as good as they can be really in all areas of their life. I think that is the way it works."
Mara seemed to choose his words carefully when talking about his embattled quarterback.
"I think when you're 1-5, it generally means that everybody needs to play better, so he's not alone," Mara said. "I still ... we still believe in him, but everybody needs to do their jobs in order for us to be successful, and right now that's not happening. I know he's the punching bag right now, but a lot of guys need to play better when you're 1-5."
Mara said he has no regrets about passing on a quarterback and selecting Penn State running back Saquon Barkley with the No. 2 overall pick in this year's draft, in spite of Manning's struggles and the fact that four quarterbacks were selected among this draft's top 10 picks and five in the first round. Barkley has played brilliantly for the Giants, ranking sixth in the NFL with 438 rushing yards on 84 carries and ninth in the league (first among running backs) with 40 receptions. He has 373 yards on those 40 catches and two receiving touchdowns to go with four rushing touchdowns.
"We took the best player in the draft," Mara said. "I'm thrilled with what he's accomplished so far, and I think the sky's the limit for him."
The Giants' next game is at home Monday night against the Atlanta Falcons (2-4), another disappointing NFC team. Mara was asked whether he sees any reason to believe the Giants' season can turn around.
"I think we're getting some guys back healthy this week, and hopefully that will give us some more spark," Mara said. "I think we have more talent on the roster than 1-5, but what does that mean? We're 1-5."