New York Giants: What’s behind Odell Beckham Jr.’s maturation?

Jun 13, 2017; East Rutherford, NJ, USA;New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham (13) speaks during press conference at mini camp at Quest Diagnostics Training Center. Mandatory Credit: William Hauser-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 13, 2017; East Rutherford, NJ, USA;New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham (13) speaks during press conference at mini camp at Quest Diagnostics Training Center. Mandatory Credit: William Hauser-USA TODAY Sports /

New York Giants star Odell Beckham Jr. showed worrying signs early in the offseason, but has since come across more mature. What’s behind it?

Odell Beckham Jr. had his share of critics when he missed this offseason’s New York Giants OTAs, and I was among the largest and still stand by my feelings to this day. My main concern in Beckham missing OTAs was not a decline in his talent because he is young and capable. The issues were geared more towards his lack of maturity, failure to realize that those around him looked up to him and his inability to take on a leadership role.

What fans have seen and heard this past week from Beckham have not only allowed them to let out a huge sigh of relief, but have also instilled a huge sense of positivity that he may be maturing — finally. It is hard to not credit some of his most recent actions to all of the criticism he received during his time spent away from OTAs, but he deserves personal credit for reaching this point in his career as well.

Beckham and Citi teamed up to host the Odell Beckham Jr. Football ProCamp at Kean University where he interacted with youth in the area and taught them a few tips and tricks. It also gave the New York Giants star receiver some time to reflect on how far he has personally come this year, especially with the help of those around him. In particular, newly added Brandon Marshall, OBJ had this to say via the NY Post:

"“We kind of have a similar struggle and in a sense of how we grew up and how our mentalities are,’’ Beckham said. “We’re really a lot [more] similar than what people may think and it’s just great to have him there. A guy who’s been to different teams, knows the ins and outs of how the NFL business works, somebody who can definitely school me to the game. And he’s a tremendous talent as well.’’"

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The combination of Marshall’s guidance and Beckham’s natural maturation will only make the latter even more dangerous in the game as on-field banter will begin to flow in one ear and right out of the other.

Beckham credits a lot of his personal growth to the popular self-help book, The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom. Bob Glauber of Newsday noted that there did seem to be a difference in Beckham Jr. at one of the minicamp media sessions in particular. He seemed more “settled” and aware of the growing sense of “responsibility” that he must begin to take on as the star of the New York Giants receiving corps.

It not only takes a lot for a star to admit their wrongdoings, but also for them to shoulder such a huge responsibility. The Giants star is a role model, for better or worse. For the stage that he’s on, that’s a load to carry on one’s shoulders. Beckham said it himself at his ProCamp, again via the NY Post:

"“It’s a responsibility,’’ said Beckham, who as a child looked up to Michael Vick. “I say it all the time, I remember when I was young and I looked up to somebody, little do we know the things that we do have a huge impact on ’em. So always be mindful of what you’re doing, try to be the best person you can be and in turn hopefully that will be a good role model for somebody else. It’s truly a blessing to be in this position.”"

For Beckham to finally realize this and work towards bettering himself in that role model/leader mold speaks volumes compared to the player who got into numerous sideline fights with a kicking net in 2016.

What sparked this realization in Beckham? The best guess would be that it was a combination of the media scrutiny and personal maturation. It is not easy for a star to come out and admit his or her faults, but doing that in itself is a sign of maturity. Plus, taking the extra initiative to read self-help books and actually take them into consideration also takes a lot of strength and courage.

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Whatever the real reason is shouldn’t matter to New York Giants fans. What should matter is that Beckham is not only physically ready to go for the 2017 season, but he is in a much better mental place than he was last season. It seems like he is aware that his antics will not do him or the Giants any good and that there are more important things to worry about — such as making a positive impression on those around you.