ODELL’S GIANTS SHIP IS SINKING
WR’s party boat launched disaster of 2017
It was a hostile takeover on New Year’s Night and has brought the Giants to their knees.
The road travelled by the Giants transitioning from Eli Manning’s team to Odell Beckham’s team does not require a GPS. Connect the dots from 11-5 to getting blown out in the playoffs in Green Bay to winning only one game this season … it only requires common sense.
The downward spiral began the moment the wheels went up for Miami for the now-infamous boat trip and it keeps getting worse and worse. Nothing good has happened for the Giants since New Year’s Night, which is quickly approaching its one-year anniversary.
An hour or so after the Giants beat Washington in Landover, Md., in the final regular-season game last season, they boarded Amtrak to take them back to Newark. Instead of going home and resting up on their Monday day off for the wild-card game the following Sunday in Green Bay, Beckham called “Road Trip,” only this was not Animal House, this was the best player on a $2 billion football team setting the agenda for a playoff week:
Let’s party and then have to answer questions all week about partying.
Victor Cruz, Sterling Shepard and Roger Lewis joined Beckham. Because it was already late in the evening by the time they returned from the game, they presumably went straight to Teterboro Airport and boarded a private jet.
I think the episode represents a change in the way the Giants conduct business. The players now ruled and Beckham became the leader. OBJ turned football into an individual sport. Okay, Ben McAdoo could not discipline him even if he wanted because players can do what they want on an off day, playoff preparation be damned. But McAdoo wouldn’t even criticize his star’s screwed up priorities.
It was a strong signal that the Giants were now playing by the Beckham Rules and anarchy and dysfunction has existed in the last 10 1/2 months. Instead of Manning being the role model for the young players in the locker room, the Millennials now looked to OBJ the rock star.
The Giants’ hands-off approach with Beckham — they thought it was a given he knew you can’t act like a dog and pretend to pee on the field — infected the locker room and enabled others to see how much they can get away with. It has contributed to the 1-8 season. Consider all that has gone wrong since Beckham & Co. returned from the high seas:
They got blown out 38-13 seven days later at Lambeau Field. Beckham dropped a third-down pass on the first series and a touchdown on the second series. He put so much pressure on himself to overcome the boat trip media criticism that he played the worst game of his life. Aaron Rodgers threw for 362 yards against what had been an air-tight secondary. At the time, it was written off because it was Rodgers. In truth, he exposed an overrated group.
Beckham was a no-show for all of the OTAs in what apparently was meant to send a message that he wanted a new contract. Two days before reporting to training camp, he said he wanted to be the highest paid player in the NFL.
Beckham suffered a high ankle sprain in the second preseason game in Cleveland on Aug. 21, missed the first regularseason game in Dallas, returned the second week vs. Detroit and suffered a season-ending broken ankle against the Chargers that required surgery in his fourth game back. Brandon Marshall also suffered a season-ending ankle injury in that game.
The Giants have tied their worst start since 1980. If they lose to the Chiefs on Sunday, it will be their worst record after 10 games since they were 1-9 in 1976 after opening the season with nine straight losses.
Janoris Jenkins and Dominque Rodgers-Cromartie, each high-priced free agents, were suspended one game each for breaking team rules.
Jason Pierre-Paul has rewarded the faith the Giants showed in him (four-year, $62 million contract) with just 4.5 sacks, three of them in the only victory in Denver after an 0-5 start. Olivier Vernon, who signed a five-year, $85 million free agent contract last year, had never missed a game in his first five seasons, returned last week after missing four games with an ankle injury, which is the injury of the year for the Giants. He has just two sacks.
Manning has become the worst quarterback in the NFC East. Maybe he’s just not good anymore. Or maybe playing behind a fear-inducing offensive line and having no running game has made him look like an old broken-down QB.
Football is a game of follow the leader. The best teams have coaches and quarterbacks who set the tone. Tom Brady is 40, nearly double the age of his younger teammates, but he is still the heartbeat of the locker room. There has not been one player in Brady’s 17 years as the Patriots starter who has been a big enough personality to cause a seismic shift in the locker room order. Not even Randy Moss.
Except for self-promoter Tiki Barber, who retired after Manning’s third season, and larger-than-life personality Michael Strahan, who retired after Manning’s fourth season and first Super Bowl, the locker room has belonged to Manning.
He was surrounded by strong personalities over the years in addition to Barber and Strahan — Antonio Pierce, Jeremy Shockey, Plaxico Burress — but he pretty much had the place to himself. His teammates were inspired by his first-in, last-out approach to studying and never wanted to disappoint him. He set the agenda for many years … until OBJ.
When Beckham arrived in 2014, he followed Cruz everywhere. By 2016, with Beckham’s oversized personality and connections in the entertainment world making him a cult hero in the locker room, Cruz started following him around.
Manning returned from the Washington game and immediately started to study the Packers. Beckham led his crew to an all-nighter with Justin Bieber and onto the boat the next day.
Nothing has been the same around the Giants ever since, even with Beckham on injured reserve.
It all goes back to the Boat Trip. Or maybe I’m wrong and it’s really McAdoo’s slicked-back hair.