The outcry over the Giants wide receivers taking a boat trip in Miami has been far louder than its actual effect on Sunday’s game. Yes, splashing pictures of your extracurricular activities across social media to grab attention and net a few “likes” and retweets was myopic, in-the-moment behavior of rich, twenty-somethings. It created a story where there didn’t have to be one. And playing in a town like New York that story can grow into a monster.
Had the Giants wideouts been members of the Texans in the Gulf of Mexico or the Falcons in Bermuda, what would the reaction have been? A collective shrug. DeAndre Hopkins and Julio Jones are elite pass-catchers too, just like Odell Beckham. But they don’t have the Madison Avenue spotlight, or the massive Q-Rating that OBJ does. They don’t ply their trade in New York. Had Hopkins or Jones dropped a few passes early after their boat tours, it would not have been met with anywhere near the same torches and pitchforks reserved for OBJ and company. That’s both sides of the celebrity coin.
Beckham’s attention-grabbing antics have become regular tabloid fodder and Monday debate points. His catches, his punches, his proposals to inanimate objects, his commercials, his dancing. It’s all part of the package. And now we have become conditioned to believe he’s an immature player, still searching for the way to be a great teammate. The Giants are coddling him! Eli called him out! It’s now his reputation, fairly or unfairly.
So Sunday’s game was just reinforcement for the old-schoolers that believe players should shut up, be humble, and spit cliches. The game played out perfectly for the critics. Beckham dropped a pair of passes to begin the game he normally catches. The Giants blew chances to score touchdowns instead of field goals. The Packers hung around until the second half, and then exploded for 38 points in a blowout win. For good measure Beckham punched a hole in the wall near the locker room, reportedly yelled at a maintenance worker and had Sal Paolantonio breathlessly “reporting” live from Green Bay he witnessed the wideout “bang his head against a door.”
Not exactly Cronkite in Vietnam.
This predictably became the overwhelming storyline coming out of Green Bay. Talk shows trashed Beckham, Ben McAdoo (for allowing it), Victor Cruz (for aiding and abetting it), and the team (for following his lead). Which is all modern, ridiculous, news cycle anger, yelling and spittle-projection, which we have perfected in America in 2017. The real story isn’t the losers. It’s the winners.
The Giants secondary wasn’t on that boat, and they got torched by Aaron Rodgers. The future Hall of Famer has had many incredible stretches in his career, but this may be his best. He went for 364 yards, 4 touchdowns and no interceptions on a brutally cold day against one of the league’s best units. He lost his favorite target Jordy Nelson in the middle of the game. But Rodgers just waited to pick his spots and then struck.
The injury to Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie hampered what the Giants could do in coverage, and the Packers quarterback made them pay. It’s easy to scold Beckham for lack of focus, but he wasn’t on the botched Hail Mary coverage at the end of the half. It’s fun to crush Cruz for lack of leadership, but he didn’t lose his man in the secondary as Randall Cobb nabbed 3 touchdowns on just 5 catches. Rodgers made one of the best defenses in football look confused and befuddled.
The former Super Bowl MVP has 19 touchdowns and 0 interceptions since this 7-game win streak started. That has nothing to do with Giants wideouts on a boat, unless he somehow got them to bring him back some Vitamin D and seafood paella from Miami. And while the nation storms the castle of the Giants, the Packers will quietly go to Dallas for their next game this weekend.
Green Bay may very well go there and rip apart the Cowboys too. Dallas can’t get a consistent pass rush. The secondary is not nearly as talented as New York’s. And instead of throwing a rock with frozen hands in single-digit temperatures, Rodgers gets to do it inside a comfortable dome (with plenty of cheeseheads in attendance). The Packers are beneath the fray, perfect to lie in wait of their next victim.
Watch out, Cowboys. In the background of all that silly noise about the Giants boat trip is one of the best quarterbacks of all-time playing perhaps his best football. And he’s going to do it to you if you’re not careful. In fact, you may not even hear him coming.
D.A. hosts 6-10 p.m. ET on the CBS Sports Radio Network. He has hosted The D.A. Show (aka “The Mothership”) in Boston, Miami, Kansas City and Ft. Myers, FL. You can often catch him on the NFL Network’s series “Top 10.” D.A. graduated from Syracuse University in ’01, and began looking for ways to make a sports radio show into a quirky 1970’s sci-fi television series. Follow D.A. on Twitter and check out the show’s Facebook page. D.A. lives in NYC, and is a native of Warwick, NY.