Eli Manning has a message for those still turned off by New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr.’s childish behavior against Carolina Panthers cornerback Josh Norman. Manning says it was “the exeption” and that his young receiver is getting better all the time:
“I think Odell has gotten better,” Manning told ESPN (h/t Ebenezer Samuel of the New York Daily News). “I think he learned you don’t want to be that guy. Let your talent, let your play kind of do the speaking for you. I thought this year he was much better. I thought the Carolina game was the exception. He kind of reverted back to his old self.”
During a loss to the Panthers (38-35) in Week 15, Beckham displayed some of his worst and most unsportsmanlike behavior of his two-year career. Visibly agitated, OBJ inflicted three personal fouls onto Norman, including a nasty helmet-to-helmet head-hit (watch here).
For his obnoxious lapses of judgement, Beckham was handed down a one-game suspension that forced him to sit out in Week 16 — right when his teammates needed him the most.
Besides his behavior against Norman, OBJ has stirred the pot against his opponents on other occasions as well. Earlier in 2015, Beckham was fined for punching a Buffalo Bills safety Duke Williams when the two tangled on the field, and he was an instigator in a full-on brawl during his rookie campaign, as Samuel reminded us.
Though, Manning doesn’t see Beckham’s behavior affecting his quality of play moving forward. Instead, he pointed to all the good things the young receiver brings to the table:
“He’s got a great heart,” Manning said. “He practices hard, he plays hard. He wants to be great. He does so many things that are exceptional, kind of sets the example of how guys should practice and play he game. He made a mistake, he knows it, and he’ll learn from it. I don’t see it being a future problem.”
Beckham is one of the greatest NFL talents out there as far as young receivers go. Over the course of his two seasons with the Giants, he has posted a record total of 2,755 receiving yards and 25 touchdown catches.
For this, the Giants might just have to put up with a little salty behavior every now and then from a guy who plays with as much passion as Beckham brings to each game. And, despite Manning’s analysis, opposing teams will surely be on behavior watch when Beckham is headed their way.