ORLANDO, Fla. — Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant says Odell Beckham Jr. is not only misunderstood and has been unfairly subjected to criticism, but he thinks more players should care the way the New York Giants star wideout does about the game.
“Whenever something doesn’t go right, as far as a team loss, y’all don’t like his actions, and all it is, is just him wanting to win the game,” Bryant told ESPN after the NFC’s Pro Bowl practice Saturday. “If more people were like that on his team, maybe they would do something special.”
Beckham finished the 2016 regular season with 1,367 receiving yards, third-most in the NFL, but he was widely criticized for his performance in the wild-card round. The Giants lost to the Green Bay Packers 38-13, and Beckham dropped a pair of passes and produced just 28 receiving yards, the second fewest in any game of his career.
He was so upset after the game that he punched a hole in a wall outside the visiting locker room at Lambeau Field, sources told ESPN’s Sal Paolantonio, who also saw Beckham banging his head against a door.
Odell Beckham Jr. explained his silence since the Giants’ playoff loss, telling ESPN that he hates losing but is moving on and is having fun at the Pro Bowl.
“I hate losing. Whether it’s marbles, spades, blackjack, whatever it is,” Beckham told ESPN on Thursday. He did not admit to or discuss the wall incident specifically.
Asked whether Beckham should have to explain himself, Bryant told ESPN, “He’s a talent that a lot of people wouldn’t be able to understand. You want to criticize him. You want to talk about him because you just don’t understand him — his whole mindset, the way he goes about his game. He’s a hell of a football player. He’s a great football player.”
Beckham was also criticized for heading to Miami after the Giants beat the Washington Redskins in Week 17. He and teammate Victor Cruz were seen on singer Trey Songz’s Snapchat at a Miami nightclub partying with Justin Bieber. On Monday, the team’s day off, a photo surfaced on social media of them and several teammates hanging out on a boat, shirtless. Many felt the trip suggested a lack of focus.
Bryant doesn’t see it that way. He also said Beckham’s emotions after a game, the way he outwardly expresses his dissatisfaction with losing, suggest one thing: “The heart of a champion,” Bryant said.
“Especially him, the type of success that you run into, there’s only one person able to understand it — and that’s him and that’s me,” Bryant said. “That’s because we’re the only people who get to see that. Nobody knows how to handle that type of stuff.”
Beckham, 24, said the two talk often and that Bryant, 28, has been a sounding board for him, whether it’s football-related or when it comes to dealing with life under the microscope.
“I think we do the same for each other,” Beckham said. “We’re always giving advice. I could probably look back in my texts and there were times when stuff’s going down and I’ll be like, ‘Let’s try and do this and be better at this.’ We’re always a work in progress.”
Added Bryant: “It’s probably a relationship that a lot of people wouldn’t be able to understand. Y’all like to criticize us for the little crazy things, but that’s why we have each other, to keep each other lifted and to keep each other going.”