Stop kicking Odell! Let Beckham be Beckham


At the tail end of last week's game against the Jets, Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. threw his leg back and kicked a football back toward the huddle. The Giants were penalized and forced into a fourth-and-six on the final drive down by a field goal instead of a fourth-and-one. On the next play, Beckham hauled in a 20-yard pass while being guarded by Buster Skrine, arguably the best cover corner the team had on the field at the moment.

After the game, in the least surprising development of the night, he didn't feel like talking about it, either.

"If I would've thrown it back, I really don't see the difference," he said afterward. "If you kick the ball back, it's not like I'm screaming f-bombs and kicking the ball back. You kick it back to the huddle, and we go to the fourth-and-two play. I really don't think it's a penalty, but it's not my job to make calls."

He added: "I don't know. You run the route, you try to connect ... It's funny, we get a penalty for kicking the ball down there and you have a safety who is trying to make a hit on you. Calls go this way, calls go this way; it's something you can't worry about."

In this moment, the type of people who see Odell Beckham as unseasoned and immature saw an unseasoned and immature player; the type of person who doesn't get his way and afterward is still complaining about the way the referees treated him even though that kick could have cost the Giants the game (they lost, but not because of Beckham). We're not saying coach Tom Coughlin is one of those people, but at the moment Beckham's foot met the football, there is a good chance his head began to explode.

These are the same people who think Beckham should neatly return the ball to referees after he scores a touchdown or the same people who believe players should practice catching the ball with two hands because that's the way they've always done it.

But the truth is that petulance and immaturity to one person could mean something entirely different to another. As the Giants prepare to save their season tonight against the Miami Dolphins in Florida, what about viewing him as a ruthless competitor? Even after the most heartbreaking loss of the season -- not a small feat in 2015 -- Beckham is using this embarrassing moment to call referee attention to potential missed calls. Defensive back play surrounding the wide receiver is overtly physical. That's been the book on Beckham since he arrived in the league a year ago. Maybe this will get him a call down the road.

As for the kick, maybe we should argue that Coughlin needs more players who get that angry when they're frustrated. After the Bills lost to the Eagles this past weekend, LeSean McCoy was bashing his helmet against a locker because he was so upset. Josh Norman won't stop beating his own chest during games in which the Panthers are already up three touchdowns. Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers are two of the most petulant on-field personalities in the NFL -- ask anyone who has played against them.

Sometimes, people view this as drive or passion. And starting tonight, the Giants, and anyone with a rooting interest in seeing them play a postseason game in 2016, have no other choice.

Let's not criticize Beckham for always playing the game so emotionally maxed out that it can sometimes lead to a push and shove or a meaningless kick.

Let's let Beckham be Beckham.