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Opinion: Odell Beckham Jr. is justified in responding to perception of him being "locker room cancer” on Twitter

ANALYST
Feature
38   //    25 Apr 2019, 16:52 IST

Odell Beckham Jr.
Odell Beckham Jr.

If the New York Giants organization thought that they were done hearing about the team in relation to Odell Beckham Jr after the blockbuster trade to Cleveland hysteria died down, they were dead wrong.  

A month after being traded to the Browns, Beckham, who tends to keep his feelings and emotions discrete except when on the field, decided to let it all out on Twitter Monday night. In a series of tweets that went viral fast, Beckham responded to fans’, or better yet opponents’, questions regarding various issues between him and the Giants while firing back at the perception that he was a “cancer” in the Giants locker room.  

Nothing was held back in the over 40 tweets put up by the fifth-year receiver out of LSU, as subjects ranged from Giants GM Dave Gettleman’s recent comments in a press conference about a past “culture problem” in the team and his dishonesty prior to the trade to disagreements with head coach Pat Shurmur.

While it was provoked by internet trolls desiring to get an over the top response from him, Beckham also took the time to send a shot back at Gettleman and the Giants’ organization by saying that they are “a place that’s ok with losing” and make it known that there was no foreseen return to New York anytime soon.  

Beckham ended by stating how he has currently been in the happiest state in a long time and asking some followers about Cleveland to familiarize himself with his new home.  

Now, as some in the sports media world have said, Odell Beckham could have done this in fewer tweets and with less attention to the trolls, however this doesn’t eliminate the fact that he is justified in having this rant and giving everyone his side of the story. Some will say that the rant just adds to the opinion that he is a locker room cancer, but that is very much not the case.  

The New York Giants have been a losing organization over the past several seasons since winning their 4th Super Bowl in 2011 for more reasons than just Odell Beckham Jr., and the media coverage that has surrounded him and the team have been completely unfair.  

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The team’s brass has talked a lot about their motto of rebuilding yet competing at the highest level simultaneously, however what’s been done with roster shows the exact opposite. 

Instead of fixing the weak spots on the roster and keeping the players who truly work to make the team better, these players have been getting cut or traded to other teams for insufficient returns.

Draft strategies have also been a major failure, as besides Saquon Barkley, the Giants have not found many guys in the draft that elevate their team primarily in the struggling positions. Any picks they did are no longer with the name, i.e. Landon Collins and Odell Beckham.  

Throughout his time with the New York Giants, the skills that Beckham possessed and the things he could do were earlier beyond comparison to any other professional athlete. Another thing that was admirable about him was his intense love and passion for the game and desire to succeed by any means.  

That’s what Odell Beckham displayed each day and Sunday, not some “cancerous” behavior that was harmful to his teammates and their success. Like any other player, he wanted to win and wanted to do whatever he could to make that happen. He wanted the ball in his hands to make the game changing play.  

When things weren’t working and the hard work wasn’t producing, Beckham would get frustrated and show that through some questionable actions like banging his head against the kicking net and letting his emotions out on the sideline. That isn’t cancerous behavior, that’s called passion for the game and for doing what you do right.  

It’s not uncommon for athletes to show their passionate emotion when they can’t figure out a way to help their team win. Former Boston Celtics big man Kevin Garnett used to hit his head against the team banner under the basket both before games started and when he was frustrated. The difference is nobody within the team or the media thought that was “cancerous” behavior.  

Since this “cancer” subject is being mentioned so much in the media and in this article, it allows the opportunity to bring in another argument in defense of Beckham and his Twitter rant. There have been other NFL players whose actions have caused more harm to their team’s success, yet they haven’t been perceived as “locker room cancers” to the degree that Beckham has, and they did not receive the same fate that he did.  

Two prime examples of these other players are ex-Steelers Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell.  

Brown was known for causing a ton of legitimate problems within the locker room, such as posting locker room conversations on his Facebook live and saying negative things about quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. Despite this, the Steelers brass never thought he was a cancer, and only sent him packing to the Oakland Raiders after Brown requested for a trade to happen.  

Le’Veon Bell was not causing issues in the locker room, but he was doing things that impacted his career and the success of his team. Throughout his time with the Steelers, Bell was involved in a few suspensions by the league and the team’s offensive performance was stagnant without the solid run game. Then towards the end, he decided to sit out an entire season because of disagreements over his contract and an unwillingness to sign a franchise tag.  

Odell Beckham Jr. never did any of these sorts of things, yet he was the one receiving all the negative energy and media attention. He never put confidential materials out on social media or got into fights with his teammates who he wanted to make better. When he was working on a new contract with the Giants, he wanted to continue participating in team activities until the fair deal was reached.  

Beckham was a team player first and wanted to improve his game and the performance of his team in any way possible. Like he said in his Ywitter rant, ask any player in the Giants shared the locker room with him how he was, and they’d say he was a positive presence. Not only would that be said, but it showed in the camaraderie they showed with him.  

What stands out the most about this is that as soon as the rumors started flying that Beckham could be on the trading block, despite Dave Gettleman’s statements at the NFL Combine, a lot of teams were interested in getting him.  

That’s because whether they believed he was a locker room issue or not was meaningless, they knew he is one of the best skill players in the league right now and that’s what mattered. Production and effort on the field matters more than unimportant off the field incidents or perceptions.  

Before unfortunate injuries befell him, Odell Beckham was bringing that production in every way and making the offense, and especially the quarterback, look better.  

David Gettleman and the Giants’ management should have been reminded that they were dealing with a generational talent that could win a Super Bowl with them before they traded him to Cleveland. It may be some time before the Giants ever see another player like Beckham donning their uniform, and it seems pretty evident now that he won’t be returning to New York in the future.  

In the end, Beckham was a star player underappreciated by many who gave him a bad rep despite praising him whenever he made one handed catches on gameday. While this rant may only add fuel to this debate regarding Beckham’s character, the reality is its all unfair and therefore Beckham is justified in his response.  

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