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Odell Beckham Jr.'s OTA absence points to a broader concern

This isn't about missing organized team activities. They are voluntary.

For Odell Beckham Jr., this is about that fine -- yet fuzzy -- line between perception and reality. If Beckham cared about it, he would change. At this point, it appears crystal clear that he won't.

In the grand scheme of things, it's about winning. And getting it. In that order. But with Odell, the latter has a lot to do with the former.

After the Giants' blowout loss at Green Bay in this past January's Wild Card Round, I wrote that Beckham's highly publicized boat trip in Miami had nothing to do with Big Blue's defeat. He spent his off day doing what he wanted to do, as is his right. He didn't miss any work. As long as a guy shows up when he's supposed to -- and is physically and mentally ready for practice and games -- that's what you should care about.

Still, the Beckham boat storyline was omnipresent during that opening week of the playoffs ...

... and then Odell couldn't catch a cold, finishing with four receptions (on 11 targets) for 28 yards and dropping multiple balls, including one in the end zone. And the Giants lost. And then he punched a hole in the wall of the Lambeau locker room. And then Eli Manning said of his talented teammate, "You do things, you've got to back it up." And then Giants general manager Jerry Reese told the assembled press, "We all had to grow up at different times in our lives. I think it's time for him to do it now. He's been here three years now."

That's the problem with Odell -- there's always the "and" part.

Beckham isn't a bad guy. He's done nothing illegal or horribly wrong. He's eclipsed 1,300 yards and scored double-digit touchdowns in each of his first three regular seasons ...

... and Odell has never won a playoff game.

There it is again -- the "and."

Beckham became an international sensation in 2014 with a mind-boggling, one-handed grab in a "Sunday Night Football" bout against the rival Cowboys ...

In 2015, Odell set a Giants record with six straight 100-yard games ...

... and then Beckham snapped the streak when he let Josh Norman get under his skin and lost his mind, committing three personal fouls in a crucial Giants defeat. Not to mention, Beckham was suspended the following game for his dangerous antics.

And in a related note, this past season, he got into a fight with a kicking net.

OK, that last point is a facetious one. But you get the bigger picture here. Beckham does some amazing things on the gridiron, but there's always more to the story, always unnecessary drama piled on top.

Given all that, and given Beckham's disappearing act in the 25-point playoff loss to finish last season, you'd hope the receiver would head into Year 4 with laser focus -- working to get better, dedicating himself to the Giants.

Which gets us back to OTAs.

I've never criticized a player simply for skipping voluntary workouts. Several NFL greats and team leaders have done it in the past. And some of these types will do it in the future. There's a trust built in. And great harm to the team is avoided.

Some argue that Beckham skipping workouts he doesn't contractually have to attend is disappointing, but honestly, that alone isn't huge news. If the 2017 Giants flourish and go deep in the playoffs, nobody will even remember that he missed OTAs. That's a fact. Consequently, I thought about letting this development pass without comment. Odell opted out of a voluntary activity ...

... and opted into the Johnny Manziel experience.

Why would Odell Beckham Jr. want to even allow the perception that, during a week of Giants OTAs, he spent more time hanging with NFL flameout/troublemaker Johnny Manziel than Eli Manning? On the heels of everything, it's bizarre. The optics are terrible. Speaking of which ...

Signing the biggest shoe deal in NFL history is great. Seriously. He genuinely deserves congratulations for that development last week. But when he follows it up by skipping OTAs, well, what does this do for the perception that Beckham is more about the bling than the ring?

And how about his tweet-ripping critics earlier this week? Oh, and then seemingly taking an indirect shot at Ben McAdoo via retweet? It's all unnecessary. And amateurish. Stuff that should be beneath one of the game's most enticing talents.

In three NFL seasons, Odell has put up Jerry Rice-caliber numbers ...

... and his drama is something built for Jerry Springer.

I love the movie "Bull Durham" and can quote it all day. I particularly enjoy one of the scenes when Nuke LaLoosh is getting schooled by Crash Davis. The savvy catcher holds up the hot-shot prospect's gross shower sandals and delivers a splendid rant:

"Your shower shoes have fungus on 'em. You'll never make it to the bigs with fungus on your shower shoes. Think classy, you'll be classy. If you win 20 in The Show, you can let the fungus grow back on your shower shoes and the press'll think you're colorful. Until you win 20 in The Show, however, it means you're a slob."

Odell Beckham Jr. is one of the elite players in the NFL. But the fungus is overflowing on his shower shoes -- beyond the point where it can be considered colorful.

And that's the problem.

Follow Adam Schein on Twitter @AdamSchein.

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