PHOENIX -- There was no doubt Odell Beckham Jr. could be a headache for the Giants. He had a knack for creating unwanted headlines and distractions, and he was a lightning rod for controversy -- much of which he created for himself.
But co-owners John Mara and Steve Tisch wanted to make it very clear they genuinely liked their star receiver. They did not order GM Dave Gettleman to get rid of him. And they absolutely do not think that Beckham is a "bad guy".
"Whoever said that?" Mara said on Sunday. "I never said that to you and I've never said that to anybody else. We've never taken that position about him. I just said that he was a good guy, he's somebody we liked very much, that we embraced. Did he bring extra issues into the building from time to time? Yes, he did, but I thought they were manageable ones, particularly given the talent."
Mara and Tisch, speaking for the first time since the trade in a room at the Arizona Biltmore hotel, site of the annual NFL owners meetings, made it very clear they only reluctantly agreed to the Beckham trade. They were convinced to do it, they said, because both GM Dave Gettleman and coach Pat Shurmur believed the deal had the potential to make the franchise stronger in the future.
Still, there were no doubt issues with Beckham over the years. The Giants first flirted with trading him last March, shortly after a video surfaced of him in bed with a woman, a pizza and what appeared to be marijuana. Then last season, Beckham did his infamous ESPN interview when he was asked if the Giants had a quarterback problem and he answered, "I don't know", a startling lack of support for Eli Manning. In that same interview, months after signing his record contract, he indicated he wasn't happy in New York.
Those are some of the many reasons why a source told SNY on the day the trade was made that the Giants did it, in part, because, "He had become too much of a pain in the ass."
To Mara and Tisch, though, the Beckham-related headaches weren't a big enough deal to push him out the door.
"Listen, honestly there were times where it did bother me, and I had conversations with him about it," Mara said. "But it was never to the point where we said to Dave, 'You've got to get rid of this guy.' It never reached that point. But is it a factor in the final decision? Yeah, it's a factor.
"The thing about him, though, is he's a good guy. He did a lot of good things with us. He was terrific with the Make-a-Wish kids that we brought into the facility every week. It wasn't like we were getting rid of a guy who was going to be a criminal."
To Tisch, who is also a Hollywood producer, dealing with Beckham was a lot like dealing with a demanding star on a movie set.
"I kept reminding John that over my producing career of over 45 years, I've dealt with a lot of actors," Tisch said. "Understanding superstars is a very, very complicated business almost of its own."
In the end, Mara didn't need to be reminded of that.
"There were always some extra issues that he brought into the building every day," he said. "But it wasn't to the point where it was unmanageable. … We wouldn't have signed him to that contract if we thought that he was a bad guy or somebody who was going to constantly be in trouble."