The Odell Beckham Jr. Double Standard

The lack of consistency when criticizing Beckham is vociferous insanity

Saying Odell Beckham Jr. is a lightening rod for controversy is like saying water is wet, the Eiffel Tower is tall and breakfast food is equal parts delicious and magical.

He’s the most polarizing figure in the NFL, and it may not even be close.

Since entering the NFL and making one of the greatest catches in the history of the professional game, Beckham has caught an enormous amount of controversy. Of course, his violent outburst against Josh Norman and the Carolina Panthers didn’t help Beckham’s image. If you want to pinpoint an exact moment when the blind, asinine hatred for Beckham started, look no further than that game.

Social media blew up, every sports network aired the clip on repeat and it was one of the most heavily discussed story lines in sports — despite the Giants being a bad team, whose playoff chances had all but been dashed.

Unfortunately for Beckham, that’s when a lot of people’s ignorant, irrelevant claims of him being a dirty player came true, albeit for three quarters. From that point on, it didn’t matter what Odell Beckham Jr. did, because it was going to garner him criticism.

Two years later, Beckham is still, by and large, football pariah №1. People want him so desperately to fit this skewed image that any and every action he does will be falsely interpreted 10 times over. The simple fact about Beckham is that he’s not a good guy, and he’s not a bad guy.

He’s just the guy.

It’s gotten to a point of brutal insanity, if we’re being honest. After displaying his super hero-like impact against the Eagles, getting the Giants back into a game they had no right being in and making one of the most unbelievable catches you’ll ever see, people are more concerned with a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty Beckham accumulated after his first touchdown.

Never mind the fact that the penalty wound up being inconsequential and meaningless. No, Beckham did something that could be spun into him being a punk, and it fit the picture beat writers and internet trolls alike are trying to paint.

I’ve said it before, and I’m as positive as Beckham is controversial that I’ll say it again in the future: Odell Beckham Jr.’s name is a rarity in the news world, simply because it’s always relevant. To some, Beckham is famous, while to others he’s infamous. That makes him the perfect evergreen topic, as well as the proverbial elixir to a slow news day.

Does he have room to grow in terms of maturity? Absolutely. But to label this 24-year-old superstar a distraction and cast him in a role of a villainous, cancerous player would be irresponsibly biased.

And the people who want Beckham traded are absolutely, 100 percent dead wrong. Beckham has been the only constant on the Giants since 2014, and it doesn’t look like anything is going to change. He is, at worst, the third best receiver in the NFL. He is the entire New York Giants offense, yet some people want this once-in-a-lifetime player traded because of a few — literally three. He’s been flagged three times in his career for unsportsmanlike conduct/taunting after a touchdown — penalties.

People often bring up how other players get away with things that would land Beckham in a world of criticism for doing. Well, I finally decided to actually take the time to go and look at those other players. For argument’s sake, I’ll try to conjure up what would happen to Beckham if he did the same thing player X did.

Various players:

  • Sideline outbursts
  • Showing frustration

Whether it be Allen Robinson, Mike Evans or Adrian Peterson, a myriad of players have displayed a lot of emotions on the sideline. The only difference is that the media destroys Beckham whenever he has sideline fit, while other players’ go mostly unnoticed.

Sure, they have their 15 minutes of roasting on Twitter, but then the hoopla dissipates. For Beckham, memes and videos of his altercation with the kicking net were played on loop for two weeks.

When any other wide receiver asks for a pass-interference call — so pretty much every wide receiver not named Larry Fitzgerald — it goes pretty much unnoticed. But when Odell does the exact same thing, he’s labeled soft and a crybaby.

A very recent example of a player’s emotions exploding occurred when Richard Sherman more than lost his cool. He hit Marcus Mariota waaaaaay late, and it was clearly a cheap shot.

Yet, all I saw on Twitter about a half-an-hour after that hit was more people upset with Beckham’s penalty. It’s truly surprising how quick people are willing to forget heated actions of lesser players.

Rob Gronkowski:

  • A lot

Oh, boy. Where to even start with Gronk?

Let me take you back to January. That was when Beckham — and his teammates, but that headline won’t have the same SEO impact — went to Miami and had a picture taken of him on a cruise. People were outraged, and you would’ve thought Beckham had broken 143 laws in two hours.

A year prior, Rob Gronkowski hosted a party cruise from February 19–22. The cruise featured live music, binge drinking and dancing. One thing the cruise did not feature, however, was the amount of criticism Beckham received for just appearing on a boat — not hosting a fucking three-day party cruise.

The sparse criticism it did receiver actually came from two of Beckham’s former teammates, cornerbacks Charles James II and Prince Amukamara.

Oregon’s Geoffrey C. Arnold perfectly encapsulated the lack of criticism Gronkowski receives, solely because that’s who we’ve decided he’s supposed to be.

Gronkowski and his buddies’ actions during the decadent cruise — which included Gronkowski reportedly offering $10,000 to a couple if they would “bang in front of everybody” — is part of his persona and public lifestyle. He dances. He grinds. He takes pictures with porn stars. He gets positive publicity because he’s Rob Gronkowski.

Beckham dances, celebrates and goes on boats, too. Except he gets vilification and unnecessary flack because he’s Odell Beckham Jr.

From party boats to motorboats, TMZ picked up a video of Gronkowski at a club in which he rubs his face in-between a woman’s breasts.

Gronkowski also asked an Asian man about friend rice during a Q&A, before calling him Leslie Chow.

More recently, Gronkowski appeared in a music video in which he’s surrounded by lingerie-clad women, and even slaps one of their asses in the video.

As far as the whole 69 schtick, there really isn’t much to say. Gronkowski loves the number 69, and that’s basically it. He’s adored and glorified because of it.

Finally, Gronkowski also appeared at Wrestlemania 33 this year, getting in the ring and helping his buddy Mojo Rawley — real name Dean Muhtadi. And then he was back on WWE programming, attending Smackdown! Live.

Gronk is probably the best, most obvious example of media bias. Sticking with the theme of professional wrestling, Gronk’s “gimmick,” if you will, is a wild, immature party boy. The media has deemed that “okay,” and because of that, he gets a free pass for acting like a frat boy on spring break.

In a way, Gronkowski and Beckham are very similar. They’re both game-changing, once-in-a-generation players who have a superstar aura.

I also love Gronk. I think he’s the best tight end of all-time, and his personality is a breath of fresh air from the monotonous, cookie-cutter athlete. But it’s insane to label his behavior okay, while saying Beckham’s much, much lesser actions are a distraction.

If Odell did that … Mike Francesca would go on air and rant for a full two weeks, before eventually passing out from exhaustion.


Antonio Brown:

  • Accumulated seven unsportsmanlike-conduct penalties in his career

Brown and Beckham are two of the same when it comes to ingenious touchdown celebrations. But whereas Brown typically incorporates his hips and natural sense of rhythm, OBJ is more focused on recreating Michael Jackson dance moves.

But people really act as if Beckham accumulates excessive celebration/unsportsmanlike-conduct penalties every single game. In his career, Beckham’s been slapped with such penalties three times. And if you want to really analyze things, you could argue he shouldn’t have been flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct when he took off his helmet in the Ravens game.

Brown has amassed seven of those penalties, two of which came last year.

Personally, I think it’s kind of insane to expect players like OBJ and AB84 to always shy away from getting penalized. They’re creative players who love to entertain, and because of that, sometimes they’re going to make mistakes. They’re in the heat of the moment, and that makes it difficult to completely stop, put a situation through the Potter Box and analyze what type of consequences a certain celebration may have.

Asking these guys to stop celebrating is effectively asking them to stop being themselves, and that just isn’t going to happen.

Ezekiel Elliott:

  • Exposed a woman’s top

I know Elliott is involved with a lot of other things independent from pulling a girl’s top down. But I really don’t want to get into the alleged affairs Elliott supposedly did.

But what we do know, however, is that Elliott pulled down a woman’s shirt during a St. Patrick’s Day parade. There’s literal video evidence of this, in which Elliott exposes the woman’s breast. The woman in the video clearly is not okay with this action, and you can’t really blame her.

Elliott actually even justified his behavior by saying he and the woman have had sex after the incident (according to TMZ). While Elliott received a fair amount of criticism for his action, people are by and large done talking about it.

Beckham went on a boat in January, and people were still talking it in fucking July.

If Odell did that … honestly, the world would probably explode. Beckham would be labeled a sexist. Lena Dunham would try to say Beckham not talking to her set the tone for exposing a woman’s breast.

Doug Baldwin:

  • Pretended to poop out a football in the fucking Super Bowl

In fairness, this one did get Baldwin a decent amount of flack from the media. Baldwin, according to Dan Carson of Blecher Report, said the celebration was directed toward then-Patriots cornerback Darrelle Revis.

The absolutely insane, ridiculous thing about comparing Baldwin pooping to Beckham peeing is that one took place in a standard, week three regular-season game, and one took place in the fucking Super Bowl. But Beckham still got more heat for his celebration, which is just mind-boggling when you think about it.

If Odell did that … Pat Leonard would pen an op-ed piece talking about how Ben McAdoo needs to exile Beckham to the center of the Earth. The piece would make The Bible look like a light read.

Do you know how many off-field incidents Beckham has had? Zero. One, if you’re a lying curmudgeon who’s trying to tell me you’ve never spent a day off from work doing something inappropriate. How many times has OBJ had a run-in with the law? None. How many DUIs or PED incidents does Beckham have? Hector Zeroni times.

How many times has Beckham single-handedly lifted the Giants to victory? A lot. If you want the exact amount, then I’ll say 11 times (it’s completely hypothetical).

Beckham has never cheated, nor has he failed to live up to his superstar hype.

As I previously mentioned, the purpose of this is not to say other players are bad guys. It’s easy to forget NFL players, and celebrities and professional athletes in general, are human beings too. They make mistakes, and more importantly, they have fun.

But the fact that Odell Beckham Jr., a guy whose record is squeaky clean off the field in comparison to a lot of other players, gets destroyed by the media for pretty much anything is insane.

If you want to make Odell Beckham Jr. out to be a bad guy, be my guest. If you want to say he’s a distraction and that the Giants would be better off without him, go ahead. If you want to cast him as the next Terrell Owens, I won’t stop you.

But if you do any of that, you’re engaging in ignorant, blind, illogical, impractical deduction. And if you do that, you better be criticizing other players just as much.

If you really have a scathing hatred for the blond-haired sensation, you better have a change of heart, because the Giants aren’t going to let him go anytime soon.

Follow Ryan on Twitter: @ryandisdier