Odell Beckham Jr Jersey

The excitement coming out of Cleveland is palpable, with the ne’er-do-well Browns suddenly being transformed into one of the NFL’s most talked-about franchises — and all in a good way, for once.

One person who is a bit more muted about things: Odell Beckham Jr., who helped generate so much buzz after last week’s trade from the Giants. In fact, Beckham is on mute — literally — as he tries to figure out just how to feel about one of the most consequential trades in Giants history. If not the most consequential.

“I appreciate the love honestly,” Beckham wrote on Instagram early in the week, “but at this moment for the next couple of days I’m goin’ dark . . . I really need some time to vibe and just get away, process, re-evaluate some of the things in my life, as much as changed for me recently . . . I’m really just tryin’ to get everything together and gather all my thoughts so I can take the next steps in my life to be the very very very best me moving forward . . . ”
The post was deleted, and Beckham hasn’t been heard from — at least publicly — since.

My two cents: For all the controversy Beckham was part of with the Giants — and heaven knows how many times he ran afoul of norms and challenged the allegiances of Giants fans — he is not entirely OK with this trade. He even used the word “bittersweet” in a text to NFL Network’s Kimberly Jones shortly after the trade was agreed to March 12.

“At this point I have no idea what to think,” Beckham told Jones. “I’m trying to process it right now . . . It is what it is. It’s life.”

That does not sound like a man who shares the enthusiasm and expectation Cleveland is feeling right now.

Beckham’s ambivalent reaction brought me back to a conversation we had in October, a few days after an interview on ESPN in which he cast doubts about his belief in Eli Manning as a capable quarterback and about whether he enjoyed living in the New York area. His comments drew a harsh rebuke from the Giants’ organization — including coach Pat Shurmur and president and co-owner John Mara.

“I wish he would create the headlines by his play on the field, as opposed to what he says and does off the field,” Mara said a few days after the interview aired. “I think he needs to do a little more playing and a little less talking.”

Our conversation was an unusual one — and an uncomfortable one, in the beginning. It came after I asked a follow-up question privately after Beckham’s weekly media session in the locker room.
I wanted to know if he was concerned about the fallout from his remarks to ESPN.

“Nothing’s going to come between my brothers and my teammates,” Beckham said in a snappish tone. (He also had bristled when I asked about the ESPN interview during his group session.) “If anything, it’s drawn us close and we’re taking steps to be the very best team we can be.”

He walked off angrily.

But a few minutes later, Beckham returned to the locker room and asked if we could speak alone.

No problem.

He explained that he didn’t want to come off as angry at my question, that he’s not in the habit of cutting short interviews. I told him I wasn’t offended. It happens. I happen to believe that athletes ought to be given the benefit of the doubt in their media interactions because they are under unusually intense scrutiny. Give-and-take with reporters about the interview process is healthy, and this was clearly an example, especially because he asked to clear the air.

He even laughed when I suggested that he had this slight grin during the group interview, which I took to mean he thought he might be getting off easily about a topic that had generated national attention. He admitted as much.

But there were two other things Beckham said during our chat that struck me. One was his acknowledgment that he really wanted to be a leader in every sense of the word — something he eventually shared on the record — and that it was important to him to be looked at as a positive force in the locker room. The other was that he was anxious to see the Giants’ rebuilding process through to its eventual conclusion — which he believed would be a championship.

Was he being sincere?

I believe he was.

I believe it was important to him to be a great player for what he considered a great franchise, to be mentioned in the same breath as all the players who have meant so much to the Giants. Lawrence Taylor. Phil Simms. Harry Carson. Manning.

Beckham takes his craft extremely seriously, and while his flamboyance might rub a lot of fans — and even some of his coaches — the wrong way, Beckham is at his core an intensely competitive athlete who wants to win at all costs.

That’s why I believe part of him is genuinely disappointed not to be viewed as a part of the solution with the Giants. I’m not sure he would ever publicly admit as much, but I do believe he wanted to see this through with the team that drafted him and catapulted him to fame and fortune, starting with that magnificent three-fingered touchdown catch against the Cowboys on Nov. 23, 2014.

Beckham now has the chance to play for an ascending team with a charismatic quarterback in Baker Mayfield and with Beckham’s former LSU teammate and close friend, wide receiver Jarvis Landry.

Beckham undoubtedly will be a center of attention for his new team, perhaps even more than he was with the Giants, who went to the playoffs only once during his time here.

But no matter how well things turn out in Cleveland, I suspect a part of Beckham will always be a Giant. Which explains his use of “bittersweet” to describe his initial feelings about the trade. And perhaps explains why Beckham needed to go off the grid for a while to figure out his emotions.

Eli Manning Jersey

The year is 2037. Commuters complete short jaunts to workplaces via flying cars. Superfast express trains carry passengers between New York and Chicago in under an hour. The United States is a soccer power and the reigning World Cup champions. The New York Giants have extended Eli Manning’s contract to keep him starting quarterback for yet another NFL season.

Such unoriginal jokes and accompanying memes summarize the state of many within the Giants fan base following general manager Dave Gettleman and the front office trading superstar wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. to the Cleveland Browns while retaining Manning, who turned 38 years old this past January, to serve as New York’s starting signal-caller heading into the summer months and, most likely, Week 1 of the 2019 campaign.

Beckham’s departure, one apparently in the works for over a year, per Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com, isn’t Manning’s fault. Neither is New York’s decision to pick up the $5 million roster bonus attached to the last season of his contract.

Manning doesn’t owe it to the club to retire before he wishes to stop playing, and he’s restructured his deal in the past to provide the Giants salary cap relief. He isn’t the blame for the many holes on New York’s roster this March.

This isn’t to say criticisms of his play aren’t warranted. You don’t have to be a scout with access to All-22 film to see Manning’s fastball isn’t what it was during New York’s last title campaign. Years playing behind a putrid offensive line, a unit that admittedly improved over the second half of the 2018 season, visibly made him skittish and prone to “happy feet” syndrome.

The two-time Super Bowl MVP once capable of dropping a ball on a dime for a legendary completion became Captain Checkdown before our very eyes.

Yes, Father Time is undefeated and untied, but Manning’s age and whatever he does or does not have left in the tank are merely parts of the equation for how the Giants arrived at where the club sits in power rankings and projected division standings. It will take years, and possibly several regime changes, for Manning’s detractors to fully appreciate how drastically and embarrassingly the Giants wasted this quarterback’s prime, and ultimately view such failures as unforgivable football sins.

Football Outsiders commonly waits six years to evaluate NFL Draft classes. Giants fans won’t want to relive the majority of the team’s selections over that time. From Justin Pugh, New York’s first-round pick in 2013, to Johnathan Hankins, Damontre Moore and, last but not least, Ryan Nassib, that entire spring essentially squandered New York’s long-term future.

New York’s 2014 draft class was saved by Beckham until earlier this March. With that no longer the case, not a single player taken by the Giants that year is still with the club. Casual fans couldn’t say what most of those athletes are up to these days.

Ereck Flowers, the ninth pick of the 2015 draft, is a bust somehow on his third roster. The Giants let Landon Collins sign with the Washington Redskins as the franchise finalized the Beckham trade. 2016 first-round pick Eli Apple played and acted his way into a trade to the New Orleans Saints in October 2018.

In 2017, the Giants drafted tight end Evan Engram over the likes of T.J. Watt, Alvin Kamara, Kareem Hunt and James Conner. The cherry on top of the sundae is the decision to take Saquon Barkley over an available signal-caller with the second pick of last year’s draft, a call that never needed to be so controversial then or now.

The time for the Giants to move in a different direction was roughly 14 months ago after Pat Shurmur was introduced head coach. Alex Smith and Teddy Bridgewater were available, albeit via different paths. As was Case Keenum, who flopped with the Denver Broncos in 2018, but who enjoyed a career renaissance playing under Shurmur with the Minnesota Vikings the prior season. Remember, also, that the Giants could have moved back up in the first round of last year’s draft to acquire Lamar Jackson while keeping Barkley’s rights.

With a head coach who’d never spent a second with Manning on the sideline and a general manager who never selected the greatest quarterback in franchise history anywhere in sight, co-owner John Mara could’ve given Manning a proper farewell during a press conference that preceded either a trade or the quarterback’s release. Instead, ownership and the front office whiffed, and too many will now view Manning as somebody who hung around past his welcome.

The Giants wronged Manning from 2012 through pulling the trigger on the Beckham trade, not the other way around. At least he can cash in on one last year of deserved pay. Unfortunately, the cost could be the Giants wasting a third promising prime over the span of a decade.