Hall of Fame receiver Cris Carter recently added his name to the growing list of people offering to help guide Odell Beckham. The list of his "mentors" now includes Michael Irvin, Terrell Owens and Dez Bryant, among others. And many others - including Hall of Fame linebacker Ray Lewis - have offered unsolicited advice.
Mentors and well-intentioned advice are never bad things, of course -- even if in some of these cases they have to take a "Do as I say, not as I did" flavor. And maybe Beckham will be more inclined to listen to former players, rather than, say, his general manager and coach. There's certainly no doubt Beckham could use a little guidance as he tries to channel his emotions and learn how to be a professional.
But, to quote a coach who missed a golden opportunity to really help Beckham in his first two NFL seasons: "Talk is cheap." All of this is meaningless noise, some of it wrapped in enabling. Because if Beckham is going to "grow up" - as Giants GM Jerry Reese implored him to do after the season - he's going to have to figure out how to do it on his own.
There are a couple of important points to remember, too, while digesting all this advice being tossed at Beckham, seemingly every day. One is that his "crime" is not an actual crime - he's been accused of letting his passion and emotions and excitement get the best of him on the field and off. That's been mixed in with the occasional youthful misjudgment, like his ill-timed trip to Miami which was optically - not legally - bad.
Also, Beckham is 24, not 12. Yes, that's young. No, that's not too young to know right from wrong or to be able to control yourself during a game. It's not too young to know that punching a hole in a wall is misguided, and doing it in an open hallway outside of a media interview room is begging for attention. It's not too young to know that coming out of the locker room in Philadelphia to growl at a wall 15 feet away from a line of reporters and cameramen was going to become a hot topic. And as a player who's been in the spotlight his whole life, it's not too young to know that trip to Miami six days before a playoff game is a bad look and sketchy judgement, at best.
Reminders are good. But this wave of advice isn't new. He's been getting it since he began to rocket to stardom as a rookie, when on the field he looked like he was bordering on out-of-control. He's been getting it since the end of his second season, when he lost control against Josh Norman and drew a suspension. He's been getting it from coaches, teammates, members of the Giants' front office, former Giants, former NFL players, and the media, too.
And still, the advice continues to come.
"I understand what he's up against," Carter, now a Fox analyst, told NJ.com during Super Bowl hype week in Houston on Tuesday. "And I've issued some challenges to him if he wants to grow. Growing is very, very important, not only as a wide receiver, but as a human being."
Carter said Beckham has committed to talking with him once a week, to visiting him in Los Angeles during the offseason, too. "I will continue to push him," Carter added. "I will continue to hug him if he needs a hug. If he needs a foot in the butt, I'll give him a foot in the butt. But I'm going to be there for him, just like people were there for me, to help me develop as a person and as a wide receiver."
Again, that's noble. And at least it's not wrapped in the enabling that came from others. Like Dez Bryant, Beckham's new confidante, who promised to guide Beckham and then ripped into his critics, saying "You want to criticize him, you want to talk about him, because you just don't understand him." Or like Irvin, who a couple of years back insisted "New York should know better" than to try to calm Beckham down because "You did it to Jeremy Shockey and he wasn't the same player. … Don't calm them down. Let them go and you'll get something special. … Leave ODB alone."
Not all of them were enablers, though. Oddly, Owens, in an interview last month on a Philadelphia radio station, might have been the least enabling of them all when he said he spoke to Beckham early in the regular season and said "He needs to understand that there are consequences to your actions."
But again, it's all just noise - well-intentioned noise. It's up to Beckham, who is old enough and mature enough and has been in the pros long enough to understand it all, to follow the advice, or not. It's not easy. In the heat of the moments on the field, his passion overwhelms him, and it's obviously hard for him to get control. And he undoubtedly enjoys all the trappings of being a huge celebrity. It's understandably not easy to push that aside at times.
All the words in the world won't change that reality. Beckham knows what he needs to do to re-prove himself next season, to change the narrative about him, to improve his reputation. He knew it last season, too. He's admitted that. He's always said the right things after something happened.
But next season will be the time when we'll see if any of the noise even mattered. It will be time for less talk and more action when it counts.