It's Time For Odell Beckham Jr. To Grow Up

Since he broke onto the scene in 2014, New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. has captivated Sunday audiences with his mind-blowing talent.

In just 12 games that year, he amassed 91 receptions for 1,305 yards and 12 touchdowns. (Remember, he put up those numbers as a rookie.) He followed that stellar output with 96 catches for 1,450 yards and 13 touchdowns last season, establishing himself as a legitimate top three wideout in the entire NFL.

This year, however, has been a much different story for No. 13. Through four games, he has just 22 catches on 39 targets and while he's gained 303 yards, he hasn't found the end zone.
The worst part (for Giants fans) is that this doesn't seem to be a physical or "x's and o's" type of problem; it seems to be a mental one.

Since Beckham made his debut in the NFL, he has worn his passion on his sleeve. Like many others across the league, OBJ has visibly screamed on the sidelines, talked trash to opponents, has come up with some pretty fun touchdown dances and has even cried manly tears.

Despite his All-Pro performance in 2015, Beckham's passion turned up to a dangerous level in his sophomore campaign, most notably in his obvious beef with then Carolina Panthers cornerback Josh Norman. He was flagged for a blatant unsportsmanlike conduct penalty in their Week 15 matchup and was suspended for Week 16's tilt for his extremely flagrant behavior that showed him basically attempting to decapitate Norman, who found a permanent residence in Beckham's head.

Irresponsibly launching himself at the head and neck area of Norman apparently didn't cross the line for Beckham, which begs the question of whether or not he even recognizes that a line exists while on the gridiron.

Fast-forwarding to this year, it is obvious that Beckham's antics have become a part of who he is on the field.

In Week 3 against Norman's Washington Redskins, Beckham had a solid game, but lost a sideline battle with a kicking net after he took a frustrated swing at it.

Most people talked about that after the game rather than the exhilarating on-field product and he became the face of many memes and was the target of social media hilarity.

During his team's 24-10 defeat at the hands of the Minnesota Vikings on Monday Night Football, he was flagged for yet another unsportsmanlike conduct penalty in the second quarter after exchanging words with Vikings cornerback Xavier Rhodes. In the process, he made slight contact with Rhodes and an official, thus sending his team 15 yards in the wrong direction.

He was a non-factor after that call and finished with just three receptions for 23 yards. But that's not the worst part for Giants fans. What he said after the game sounded a lot like a whining crybaby.

"There's never any explanation. It's always just my fault. That's all they look at it as, it's my fault. Whatever you want to call it, I just have to understand if I sneeze the wrong way it'll be a flag, it'll be a fine. If I tie my shoe the wrong way, it might be a fine or a flag. It just is what it is. You have to understand that."


Cue a very classic Mike Francesa reaction...

This type of behavior hasn't gone unnoticed. Giants coach Ben McAdoo and quarterback Eli Manning have both been vocal to the media regarding the necessity of Beckham controlling his emotions on the field and general manager Jerry Reese reportedly met with the embattled wideout after the loss to the Vikings.

While the Giants certainly aren't in panic mode following a 2-2 start, they need to get their best player in check before it's too late. Being passionate is one thing, but being able to harness and control that passion so that it doesn't detriment the team is a whole different ballgame.

Beckham's response was indicative of his train of thought: that NFL referees have it out for him even if he doesn't do anything wrong. That's called evading responsibility. That's called immaturity. Players in the Giants locker room who bust their butts on the field every week probably aren't very fond of that sound byte.

On Tuesday, just one day after the Week 4 loss on Monday Night Football, he even went so far as to claim that he's "not having fun" playing the game anymore.

That's a very, very scary quote for Giants fans and a wildly exciting one for fans of other NFC East teams.

Let's hope he can get back on the right track and use his God-given ability to his advantage. If he can harness his emotions, there's no stopping him from wearing a Gold Jacket someday. Whether or not he chooses to act like a prima donna will likely determine everything.

He's off to a bad start in that respect, as he currently holds the title of the NFL's biggest crybaby.