The news that trickled out of Giants camp Friday afternoon following their final practice of the season was hardly of the stop-the-presses variety.
Giants coach Pat Shurmur delivered the news everyone expected to hear all along about Odell Beckham Jr.: He has been declared officially out for Sunday’s season finale against the Cowboys at MetLife Stadium because of the lingering quadriceps contusion that has cost him the final four games of this season.
The news of Beckham’s season ending prematurely for the second consecutive year was followed by a spirited declaration from the star (and star-crossed) receiver, who went as far as to warn opposing defenses that he plans to take his frustration out on them.
“On a positive note, it leaves a huge chip on my shoulder for next year and the things that I know I’m capable of doing,” Beckham said. “I know next year’s going be tough on everybody I play. That’s just how I feel. That’s how I’m coming.”
Here’s the rub as it relates to Beckham’s bold words: The only way he can back up those words is to play in all 16 games, something he’s done only once in his five-year NFL career to date. Of a possible 81 games during Beckham’s career (which includes one playoff game), he has missed 21 of them. That’s a quarter of his career on the sideline, which is far too much for a generational talent like he is.
Here’s another rub for 2019 and beyond: Beckham needs to become a reason the Giants win games, not some shooting star who teases them with bursts of brilliance. That’s the reason they signed him to that $95 million contract before this season. The Giants are 25-35 in games Beckham has played (including one playoff loss). That’s not nearly enough winning for a generational talent who’s making that kind of money.
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“You train all offseason for these 16 games, plus a chance to go to the playoffs,” Beckham said. “It’s definitely not the way I want to end the season. I’m disappointed in myself, [for] my teammates, everybody, just the whole community. It’s not the way I wanted to end it.”
The maddening thing about this for Beckham is the fact that he’s gone to such great lengths in his offseason training to avoid injuries and lengthen his playing career. Beckham recently revealed on his Facebook Watch series that he spends about $300,000 every offseason on maintaining his body with massage therapists, chiropractors, trainers, track specialists, doctors and more.
This latest injury that has cost him the final quarter of this season, which Beckham called “a flukish little quad pull, strain, whatever you want to call it,” is proof of how random injuries can be and that no amount of training and preventative preparation can guarantee an NFL player of 16 regular season games.
Asked how frustrating it is to be that forward thinking about his fitness and still get hurt, Beckham shrugged his shoulders and said: “It’s life. It happens. I wish I could’ve finished the end of the season, but it is what it is at this point.”
Of his future offseason regimen, Beckham said, “I’m not going to change anything.”
“To come back from major ankle surgery [last season] and have this, this is nothing … I’ll be fine,” Beckham said.
The primary goal for the 26-year-old Beckham is to play all 16 games in 2019 (he played in 15 of the 16 in 2015 but was suspended for one game).
He missed the first four games of his rookie season with a lingering hamstring injury that he suffered in training camp. He missed the final 12 games of 2017 with a fracture in his ankle. And now this.
How good can the Giants and Beckham be if he’s on the field alongside star running back Saquon Barkley for all 16 games?
Offensive coordinator Mike Shula’s face lit up at the thought of that, saying he’s “very much’’ looking forward to finding out what that might be like in ’19.
“The sky’s the limit,” Beckham said.
Asked if he feels like, five years into his career already, he’s “running out of time” to attain all of the goals he set, Beckham said, “It’s not something you really look at.”
“You just kind of stay in the moment,” he said. “Obviously you think about the end. I’m trying to play to surpass Jerry [Rice’s records]. That’s the goal. However long it takes, I feel like I’m capable of doing it.”
Again: The first goal needs to be staying on the field, playing all 16 games. Only that is going to help the Giants win games and Beckham pursue Rice’s receiving records.