General | MAN ABOUT SPORTS

Wideouts Beckham, Bryant showing new maturity

by Dave Wiggins

Despite Odell Beckham Jr.’s recent misadventures, MAS believes the New York Giants receiver is in the process of ditching his diva persona.

“Are you losing your mind, MAS?” you say, with some incredulity. “The guy just pulled a Tony Romo-Cabo number. And then followed that up by punching a hole in a wall.”

Yeah, yeah, MAS knows OBJ went on an ill-advised Florida boat trip the week of his first-ever playoff game when he could have been home watching Green Bay film.

It created an unwanted distraction for his team, which would go on to lose to the Packers.

And, yes, I get it that his solo hallway fisticuffs after exiting the post-loss press conference was not a good look.

MAS’s response in Beckham’s semi-defense: all this stuff sounds worse than it actually is.

(By the way, MAS does indeed still have all his marbles — well, most of them, anyway).

Please bear with him as he presents his case for OBJ’s overall personal growth as a person.

While he’s at it, MAS will touch on the behavioral improvement of OTHER former petulant wideouts as well.

And he won’t stop there.

MAS will also make the case that those receivers are now being replaced by defensive backs as the NFL’s leading practitioners of self-absorbed Maria Callas — (or for you millennials, Lady Gaga-) type theatrical deportment.

But first things first. Back to OBJ.

Let’s be real: Beckham’s latest deeds were hardly the equivalent of Bruno Hauptmann’s kidnapping of the Lindbergh baby.

Which much of the media made them out to be.

His somewhat poor choices were NOT the reason the G-Men lost to Green Bay. (Red-hot Pack QB Aaron Rodgers was.)

MAS feels that both the media and many fans are overly critical of OBJ these days and failing to see the big picture with him.

Or maybe they don’t want to. They prefer to pigeonhole him as a super talent that is haywire above the neck.

It makes more interesting reading and viewing.

Not MAS, though.

He believes in taking note of positive behavioral changes made not only by Beckham but also by fellow former divas Dez Bryant of Dallas and Washington’s DeSean Jackson, among others.

Basically, they are presently trying to NOT act like morons, as was formerly the case.

Kudos to them, MAS says.

And while they are not yet in the category of, say, classy Arizona wideout Larry Fitzgerald, they deserve much more credit than they’re receiving.

MAS feels the media overlooked Beckham’s late season strides and preferred to make a mountain out of a molehill regarding his recent missteps.

MAS finds it curious that his Giants teammates who were photographed alongside Beckham on the boat were somehow given a pass and barely mentioned.

On a grander scale, MAS senses that Odell has learned from his poor conduct mistakes of the past.

Result: He has cut out his most disturbing forms of misbehavior.

Want proof?

Who can forget his disgraceful physical and verbal battle in 2015 with then-Carolina cornerback Josh Norman (who, unfortunately, STILL behaves like a nut job).

However, in his late-2016 meeting versus Norman, OBJ totally kept his cool.

All while his former nemesis and tormentor — now a Washington Redskin — tried his best to infuriate Beckham, both by vile word and with dirty play.

“I feel like I put that to an end,” said Beckham afterward. “Today I just focused on football.”

Added Giants quarterback Eli Manning, “He did a good job of laughing it off. He didn’t let it affect him.”

“He’s grown up,” tacked on fellow G-Men receiver Victor Cruz. “I’m proud of him.”

And then there was the poise Beckham displayed during the post-wild card game press conference while the media relentlessly beat his dead horse-of-a Florida trip, seeking to turn it into Boatgate.

MAS was impressed by the calm eloquence he displayed in presenting his own defense.

Yes, frustrated over the media grilling he had just received, OBJ then unwisely vented out of sight — or so he thought.

Which only proves that the guy is human and still a work in progress — aren’t we all, no matter our age?

(Ever STILL fly off the handle?)

Reportedly, Giants brass has put Beckham on notice that future incidents of the plaster-punching ilk will not be tolerated.

But Beckham probably beat them to it by telling himself the same thing.

MAS hardly sees Beckham as incorrigible. But, instead, safely on the road to redemption.

MAS sees similar development with the Cowboys former madman of a wide receiver, Dez Bryant.

Dez, too, finally gets it: his former off-field pants-on-the-ground, mall-cruising lifestyle and his irrational and selfish on-field attitude were reprehensible, not to mention counterproductive.

Bryant’s negative energy has been replaced by the positive kind.

Yeah, MAS knows, everyone’s a happy camper when you’re winning like Dez’s Cowboys are. But MAS feels Bryant’s attitude change is the real deal.

Who knows why the light switch finally went on for these receivers all at once?

MAS is just glad it did.

It is an encouraging trend.

On the opposite side of the ball, however, MAS feels things are going in the opposite — i.e. diva — direction.

Exhibits A and B: Richard Sherman, Seattle Seahawks shut-down cornerback and his Washington counterpart Norman.

Are they splendid ballplayers?

Absolutely.

But are they also veering out of control?

Yep, on that score as well.

And you can add the Minnesota Vikings defensive backfield to the downward spiral list as well.

Allow MAS to expound on their situations.

Sherman, on a number of occasions of late, has created a scene by getting into the face of Seahawks coach Pete Carroll during games over goal line offensive play calls and other things strategy-related.

Not his place to do so, at least not publicly.

Meanwhile, Norman’s Wild Man of Borneo act — where he instigates brouhahas with opponent’s wideouts and officials weekly — is becoming more than a bit unsettling to see.

And Minny’s defensive secondary decided to institute its own game plan in a late-season contest rather than follow coach Mike Zimmer’s instructions.

Bad move, guys. And not just because you ended up getting torched for several TD tosses while doing your own thing.

All of these actions represented a tip-toeing to the edge of, if not a crossing over into, Diva Land.

If there’s any group that now needs to be reined in, it is this new, DB variety of prima donna.

And not Beckham and Co. any longer.

Contact Man About Sports at: davwigg@gmail.com

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