Odell Beckham Jr. got the contract he wanted from the New York Giants. Now, he has to go out there and earn it.
At the end of the famous Steven Spielberg World War II epic “Saving Private Ryan,” Tom Hanks’ character, Captain John Miller’s dying words to Private Ryan, whom Miller’s company has saved at great cost, are “earn this, earn it.”
Well, Odell Beckham Jr. got his big payday from the New York Giants last week in the form of a five-year $95 million deal with $65 million guaranteed. While OBJ tweeted out a video of his best Rod Tidwell show me the money dance, Giant fans are collectively saying “now earn it.”
Ah, those 90s movies.
Nobody questions Beckham’s talent. When healthy, he’s one of the best wide receivers in the NFL. But health has been an issue for him. OBJ went down in Week 5 of the 2017 season with an ankle fracture that required season-ending surgery. He also missed the first four games of his rookie season in 2014 with a hamstring injury.
While not an overly large sample set, durability is a bit of question mark for OBJ. And how will $65 million guaranteed affect his motivation to stay on the field when not 100 percent?
When he is on the field, Beckham is one of the game’s best offensive weapons. With new head coach Pat Shurmur likely moving him around in various formations. That along with what should be a vastly improved running game featuring first-round pick Saquon Barkley, Odell could have his best season. Opposing defense’s top priority will likely be containing OBJ.
There’s also no question about Beckham’s marketability. Even though he missed most of what turned out to be an abominable 2017 season for the Giants, finishing 3-13, his number 13 jersey was the 11th bestselling according to NFLshop.com. In 2016, when he played a full season for the 11-5 Giants, Beckham’s jersey ranked third behind only Dallas’ Ezekiel Elliott and New England’s Tom Brady.
From the moment he made that spectacular, one-handed touchdown catch in his 2014 rookie season, Odell Beckham Jr. has been a superstar. The blonde faux hawk hairstyle hasn’t hurt either.
But the biggest question mark for Beckham has been around his maturity. From sideline kicking net abuse to seamy French videos, Odell needs to move on from the” look at me I’m gangsta” act.
While simulating a dog urinating on an end zone pylon may be pure YouTube gold it’s a wrong turn on the road to Canton. It’s certainly not what the New York Giants and their fans are paying for. They want TDs and rings…and more than anything, they want Beckham’s best on the field.
Off the field nobody’s expecting OBJ or any “baller” to be a paragon of virtue, heading home after games for milk and cookies. But there’s a line between rich boys just being rich boys and immature, boorish or even thuggish behavior. Odell has danced on the line thus far and for many fans, it probably seems like only a matter of time until he steps over. He’s certainly not the first Giants’ bad boy star.
Former Giant Lawrence Taylor, arguably the best linebacker ever, must thank God every day that he wasn’t born 30 years later, as his career may not have lasted five let alone 13 years in today’s world of camera phones and the internet. But LT utterly dominated the game with countless epic performances, leading the Giants to two Super Bowl victories. That goes a long way toward a more forgiving fanbase.
Like it or not, with the big paycheck comes bigger responsibility along with a bigger target on your back. The great ones thrive under these circumstances. They lead by example. They raise their game and minimize needless distractions and controversy, both on and off the field.
You got what you wanted Odell. Now go out there and earn it.