By Ernie Palladino
» More Ernie Palladino Columns
In the old days of “Saturday Night Live,” Gilda Radner would come on as newscaster Rosanne Rosannadanna and moan, “It’s always something.”
Gilda left us so many years ago, way too soon. But if she was around today, her alter image would have looked at Odell Beckham, Jr.’s offseason activities, wrapped her hands around her frizzy hair, and offered the same opinion.
With Beckham, it’s always something. And none of it looks great.
It’s not that Beckham has done anything outrageous since the Giants ended their 11-5 campaign. He saves his best work — starting a deep, long-lasting relationship with a kicking net, getting into it with cornerbacks, wandering off for a pre-wildcard boat ride — for the season.
Those are overt actions, all of which hurt his team’s aims in a direct way. Despite 101 catches for 1,367 yards and 10 touchdowns, all quite healthy numbers, the fact that Ben McAdoo and Eli Manning both singled Beckham out as a distraction said something about his maturity level.
The offseason is when a guy can work on those things. Take some time to get his head right. Do the things beyond the mandatory practices that help form chemistry and meld new pieces into one’s unit.
None of it guarantees in-season success. The offseason is about optics. And for a great receiver who has needed a optical adjustment for three years now, Beckham has done himself no favors.
It’s not that he’s hurt anyone. It’s just that he does things that makes one wonder where his head is at.
Take the latest instance. On Wednesday, he felt it necessary to unveil his new leg tattoo portrait of Michael Jackson on Instagram. It wouldn’t have been a big deal if he had just suppressed the urge to share it with the world. We already know Jackson’s music made quite the impression on Beckham, considering he broke out a touchdown Moonwalk against Dallas and a Thriller-inspired end zone dance under Monday night lights against the Bengals.
But imprinting the late King of Pop’s face on one’s calf takes it a step too far, only because plenty of music fans out there see Jackson not as a musical trendsetter, but as a drug-addled weirdo and accused child molester.
The tattoo hurt no one, except maybe Beckham as the artist’s needle set the minutest details of Jackson’s image under his skin.
But again, optics. Why leave something as intimate as a tattoo open to scrutiny? Even in a viral environment where no personal detail seems too small to share with God knows who, he’d have been wise to keep his newest piece of body art to himself. Let others notice it and ask about it, and then answer them truthfully. But to put it right out there shows a lack of maturity and understanding.
That, by the way, comes on the heels of another of Beckham’s small public relations wind swirls. Between April 4 and 5, Manning and a gaggle of receivers and running backs met at Duke for a four-session passing camp he put together with his college coach, Dave Cutcliffe. Run some patterns, play a little hoops, have a couple of nice bonding dinners, that sort of thing.
New Giant Brandon Marshall went. Sterling Shepard went. Tavarres King and Roger Lewis went, as did Will Tye and new running back Shaun Draughn went.
Guess who didn’t.
He had oral surgery which, for anyone else, might have been considered a legitimate excuse. But here again, optics.
It wasn’t like Manning scheduled this as a spur-of-the-moment thing. He’s been organizing these camps since 2012, several years after he and brother Peyton began meeting with their mentor Cutcliffe for offseason film sessions. Unless this was an emergency, Beckham could had his tooth tended to before the camp. Or he could’ve ‘t least hit the camp and stood on the sidelines taking mental reps.
Instead, he did manage to get out to Phoenix the day before to root on North Carolina in the NCAA tournament championship game. Before that, he made headlines when he ticked off the rapper Drake with his plans to woo Rihanna, his former buddy’s ex.
The kid has a right to party. He has a right to stick any musician’s face he wants on his leg, regardless of other transgressions real or alleged. He even has the right to blow off his quarterback’s voluntary workouts.
But for a guy trying to shake a distraction rap, cut down on some of those huge drops he had last year, and turn around an image that puts him closer to childhood than adulthood, Beckham hasn’t served himself well this offseason.
As Jerry Reese said as the Giants broke for the season, “We all had to grow up at different times in our lives. I think it’s time for him to do it now.”
The optics indicate Reese and the rest of the organization may have to wait a few more years for that.
For now, the Giants can only shake their heads and say, “It’s always something with that guy.”
Please follow Ernie on Twitter at @ErniePalladino