Beckham Says He Has Grown Up. Just Look at the Shirt

Beckham Says He Has Grown Up. Just Look at the Shirt


EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Odell Beckham Jr. had a new look for his first news conference since signing a contract extension with the Giants that made him the N.F.L.’s highest-paid receiver.

“See this polo?” Beckham said. “I’m growing up.”

He was kidding, of course. But the Giants had asked for more maturity from their most dynamic playmaker before committing to him. They saw enough to reward him with a five-year extension worth $19 million per season.

Sure, there was the predictable tough talk from Giants co-owner John Mara in March, after a video surfaced on social media appearing to show Beckham in questionable circumstances, leading Mara to say he was “tired of answering questions about Odell’s behavior.” And there were the usual negotiations played out through the news media: whispers of Beckham’s desire to play with buddies on the Los Angeles Rams, phone calls between the Giants and the San Francisco 49ers.

But the drama disappeared, and the negotiations intensified, after Beckham practiced at full speed earlier this month, clearing some significant hurdles in his return from last season’s ankle surgery. The Giants could again envision five more years of Beckham’s sensational one-handed touchdown grabs. And Beckham and his teammates could soon crank up the volume on the O’Jays song “For the Love of Money” in the locker room and dance in celebration.

“It was always our intention to sign him,” Mara said Tuesday. “The only question was, ‘Was it going to be this year or were we going to give him another year to prove himself?’ ”

“But he came in with the right attitude,” Mara added. “His energy level has been off the roof. He’s done everything we’ve asked him to do. We feel good about having him on our team for the next five years.”

It could be argued that the Giants played their hand in April by drafting a running back, Saquon Barkley, instead of a quarterback who could ultimately replace Eli Manning, who is 37 and entering his 15th season. By investing in talent around Manning, they are banking on his ability to still lead them in the short term.

It practically goes without saying that Manning needs Beckham, a generational talent whose productivity was unmatched in N.F.L. history before his 2017 season was cut short.

For that, the franchise has been willing to give Beckham, 25, considerable latitude for his off-field antics, bizarre sideline behavior, lawsuits and late nights.

“He’s matured quite a bit,” Mara said. “I think that stuff, hopefully, is in the past, and I think he’s ready to go on to be the type of player and citizen we expect him to be.”

On Tuesday, Beckham admitted he had made mistakes and had learned from them.

“I won’t say I’m proud of everything that’s ever happened,” Beckham said. “But I’m able to take everything that’s happened for me and make myself into a man and learn from those mistakes and be able to look myself in the mirror and have to deal with those things.”

Beckham has practiced hard throughout training camp, even though he is still recovering from ankle surgery. That is no trivial matter in today’s N.F.L., in which players routinely hold out in return for more money, such as Oakland’s Khalil Mack and the Los Angeles Rams’ Aaron Donald, neither of whom have reported yet this summer.

“It was important,” Mara said about Beckham’s arrival this spring, on the first day of camp. “We wanted him to come in with the right attitude. And we wanted to see if he was healthy. I think he checked both those boxes.”

After the trade rumors — which Mara said were overblown — Giants Coach Pat Shurmur went out of his way to quickly foster a relationship with Beckham, visiting him at his home in Los Angeles.

“He certainly is an outstanding player, and he’s going to help us win games,” Shurmur said. “I just wanted to get to know him like I did with the other players.”

Both Mara and Beckham credited Shurmur as instrumental in keeping them all on the same page. Now they can all turn toward another chapter.

“It kind of reminds me of the relationship I had with my high school coach, who is somebody I still talk to this day,” Beckham said. “So the relationship that we have is very good. I love everything he’s done since he’s walked in the building, and I’m just happy to be a part of it.”

A version of this article appears in print on , on Page B12 of the New York edition with the headline: Beckham Says He’s Growing Up, and He Has the Shirt to Prove It. Order Reprints | Today’s Paper | Subscribe



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