Odell Has to Know Better

Brevin Fleischer

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Odell Beckham Jr. is unquestionably the face of the Giants. He is the star. He is the savior. He is the hero. For the first time in his young career, Odell has let his fans down. He wasn’t a star on Sunday. He wasn’t a savior. He wasn’t a hero.

The most uneven aspect of the Beckham/Norman feud on Sunday wasn’t the statline or the number of personal fouls. It was the hype, the attention, the expectations. Odell Beckham has to know that he is the most beloved New York Giant since Michael Strahan. Adults adore him. Children want to be him. When Odell gets an unnecessary roughness, it’s a headline. When Norman gets one, it’s a film session issue. That’s the defining difference.

Josh Norman is a great player, arguably the best at his position in the NFL. He is one of the best players on the league’s best team. However, despite his star-status, he is not examined under the same microscope as the sensation from New York is. He can get away with a body slam, two personal fouls, and a game-tying touchdown given up. He has that luxury, whereas Odell certainly does not.

Although I am an unabashed Giants fan, I am not defending Beckham. I can’t defend three personal fouls, including a spearing to the head, a spearing that very likely could have inflicted enough damage to potentially end a season. I will  say, though, that I indeed watched the whole game. I saw everything that went on between both players. I saw how Odell’s dropped touchdown affected and cultivated his anger, an anger that he let get the best of him throughout the game. By the same token, I also saw Norman body slam Odell on the opening drive, and I saw him punch Odell in the head as the receiver went by, leading to Beckham’s ridiculous retaliatory act.

Both men played like children, allowing their undeniably great abilities to be overshadowed by a trivial feud. Both men should know better, especially Odell.

Throughout the game, Odell was probably thinking along the lines of Hammurabi’s Code, ”an eye for an eye,” not realizing that the way the media was portraying his actions was more one-sided. Odell didn’t know that Troy Aikman, former Cowboy quarterback and current Fox commentator, was presenting a pretty lopsided version of the events. He didn’t realize that most public opinion is formed from the commentator’s narrative. He didn’t get that the viewership outside of New York wasn’t witnessing a two-man brawl, but rather they were witnessing a one-man meltdown.

Now, one can wonder how Odell is possibly supposed to be aware of outside perception while he is engaged in the game. Although this seems like an impossible task, it is a necessary one for the star of the Big Apple. He, unlike most players in the league, has to look beyond the field. He has to look to the media, to the parents, to the children. Odell let a lot of people down yesterday, including myself. I expect more from him. I expect edgy, dirty play from a Carolina cornerback with a chip on his shoulder, stemming from lack of media coverage as well as the fact that his team isn’t even the Super Bowl favorite despite their undefeated status. I expect it from a guy who is a star in his own right but gets second-fiddle coverage due to the fact that he is only the fourth-best player on his team and second-best player on his own defense. I expect it from a guy using the bright lights of New York City to put himself on the map so to speak. I expect it from a guy who got in a fight with his own star quarterback and MVP frontrunner in preseason. I expect it from that guy. I expect it from Josh Norman.

I don’t expect it from Odell. I don’t expect it from the pride of New York. Odell’s been our saving grace for two years now. Whenever anybody rips on the Giants’ dismal performance in front of me, I simply respond, “At least we have Odell.” I was so proud of him, so proud to say that he was on my team. Now I’m crushed. The superhero appears not so super anymore. My little brother loves Odell probably more than he loves our mother, and she totally gets that. To watch his face as he was witnessing Odell’s antics and hearing the voice of both Aikman and my father chewing his idol out was heartbreaking. He was depressed, bewildered, and angry. Please, Odell. Please fix this. Help my little brother to adore you again. Help me to regain that aforementioned pride. Please, Odell. Please apologize.

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