Beck­ham’s lob­by­ing a Gi­ant dis­trac­tion

Ec­cen­tric wide­out wants to be NFL’s high­est-paid player

National Post (National Edition) - - SPORTS - BARRY WILNER The As­so­ci­ated Press

EAST RUTHER­FORD, N.J. • Odell Beck­ham Jr. is very aware that quar­ter­backs get the big­gest bucks in the NFL. And that NBA play­ers, even those who sit on the bench nearly all the time, have fully guar­an­teed con­tracts.

He also firmly cov­ets be­ing pro foot­ball’s high­est-paid player, as he pro­claimed in a re­cent on­line video.

That doesn’t mean the star re­ceiver isn’t go­ing to show up when it’s manda­tory, and try his hard­est in prac­tices and games.

“I am not here to hold out,” he said Fri­day at the Gi­ants’ first work­out of train­ing camp. “I am here to prac­tise. I am here to get bet­ter each and ev­ery day. I feel I have stuff I can im­prove on, stuff I need to work on, and re­ally, stuff I am will­ing to work on.

“I am 24 years old. I’m try­ing to play foot­ball un­til I can’t play foot­ball any more. I can’t get caught up tak­ing days off and not play­ing.”

Head­ing into the fourth sea­son of his rookie con­tact, he will earn just un­der US$1.84 mil­lion, not even close to the $17 mil­lion yearly av­er­age pulled in by Pitts­burgh’s An­to­nio Brown. He is due for a ma­jor raise and likely will get one in the next year.

“He de­serves to get paid,” Gi­ants owner John Mara said. “We’re go­ing to pay him. It’s just a ques­tion of when we en­ter into the con­tract. I don’t have a timetable on it right now. I just don’t feel like there is any need to rush into it. But he is go­ing to end up get­ting paid.”

Still, drop­ping a video that went vi­ral days be­fore the Gi­ants be­gan camp cre­ated head­lines. Beck­ham rec­og­nizes the dis­trac­tion for the team he can cre­ate by any pub­lic stances about the money he makes.

He doesn’t seem wor­ried.

“I don’t re­gret any­thing ever in life,” he said. “One quote I al­ways read was: ‘Never re­gret any­thing be­cause at one point in time that was ex­actly what you wanted.’ Never any re­grets for me.

“I think every­one in the locker room knows, I don’t think there is any miss­ing in­for­ma­tion be­tween me and the team, we all know what is go­ing on. If I talk, it’s a dis­trac­tion. If I don’t talk, it’s a dis­trac­tion. What am I sup­posed to do?

“So I am go­ing to speak my mind, I am go­ing to an­swer pretty much what­ever you have to ask and that’s just it. Every­one in that locker room knows what is go­ing on, they know why I am here.”

Per­haps. But Beck­ham was told by man­age­ment in his exit in­ter­view last Jan­uary af­ter a play­off loss to Green Bay that he needed to grow up. He’s been sus­pended for a game for on-field ac­tions in a feud with cor­ner­back Josh Nor­man that bor­dered on vi­cious. He’s of­ten ap­peared more con­cerned with his num­bers than the team’s.

But he’s also a game breaker, the kind of player who makes the spec­tac­u­lar seem rou­tine. His one-handed catch against Dal­las in 2014 re­mains one of the NFL’s most-viewed high­lights. It’s one of many Beck­ham has con­trib­uted on an of­fence in which he at times has been the only threat.

A player of Beck­ham’s pro­duc­tion in the NBA would have a much big­ger bank ac­count. A scrub in pro bas­ket­ball also might. That ran­kles the re­ceiver.

“What you want to do is change the game,” he claimed. “This isn’t for me, Odell Beck­ham. It’s for every­one in the league, peo­ple who de­serve it.

“You sit there and you watch the NBA and it’s crazy. Be­ing re­al­is­tic, it’s crazy what they are get­ting (paid), and there are peo­ple in the NFL who de­serve that.”

As for the top salary in the NFL go­ing to any­one but the guys who throw passes, well, Mara is skep­ti­cal that such a per­son ex­ists.

“I can’t think of one,” he said. “The quar­ter­back is all we have had be the high­est-paid player.”

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