Giants GM Jerry Reese finally took off his soft gloves as he dealt with his sometimes-petulant star receiver on Monday. There was no coddling, no excuse-making and definitely no enabling.
And it was about time.
Hopefully Reese won't be alone, either. And hopefully that's just the start of a long overdue intervention for the supremely talented Odell Beckham Jr., who in the words of Reese has to finally "grow up."
Beckham's look-at-me act in the week leading up to the Giants' blowout, wild-card loss in Green Bay was only latest chapter in a three-year-old soap opera, but to the Giants it seems to have finally been the last straw.
"This is what I see: I see a guy who needs to think about some of the things that he does," Reese said. "Everybody knows that he is a gifted player, but there are some things that he has done that he needs to look at himself in the mirror and be honest with himself about. And I think he will do that. We will help him with that, but he has to help himself, and we believe he will do that. He is a smart guy, but sometimes he doesn't do smart things.
"We all have had to grow up at different times in our lives," Reese added. "And I think it is time for him to do that."
If only the Giants had come to this conclusion 13 months ago, when Beckham first rode his rocket ship to superstardom and first crossed over the on-field line in his infamous, out-of-control game against his nemesis -- and then Carolina Panther -- Josh Norman. Tom Coughlin should've benched him in that game and should've punished him beyond the NFL's one-game suspension.
Instead the Giants made excuses for him. They promised that he'd learn, and let it go.
What followed has been a slow boil of social media spats, growing celebrity, on-field fines, constantly complaining to and about officials, and blaming the media when the spotlight got too harsh. Even last week, when Beckham and his receivers made their ill-conceived trip to Miami to party on a boat and go clubbing with Justin Bieber six days before what became a 38-13 loss in Green Bay, the Giants let it go. Eli Manning even laughed it off.
But now they've had it. They're tired of the antics, the non-football nonsense. They're tired of him kicking and banging his head into walls in front of cameras, as he did after a loss in Philadelphia in December, and the punching holes in walls (Green Bay), all while dropping far too many passes in big spots. Maybe they wouldn't have come to this conclusion had Beckham done more than four catches for 28 yards against the Packers, or if he had caught the third-down pass right in his hands on the opening drive, or the pass in the end zone one drive later.
Whatever. At least the Giants are finally here.
"He has been here for three years now and is a little bit of a lightning rod because of what he does on the football field," Reese said. "But the things he does off the football field, he has to be responsible for those things."
Or to put it another way, as Manning did: "If you do things, you have to back it up."
Now, Beckham does a lot of "things" -- most of them good. He caught 101 passes for 1,367 yards and 10 touchdowns this season on the NFL's seventh-worst offense. Imagine how putrid this Giants offense would've been without him.
The Giants need him -- desperately. They just need him to be more about football, less about everything else. They need him to be a leader, to be accountable for his actions. That's what Reese said he told Beckham when they met on Monday. The GM promised that his receiver "heard the truth."
Reese, of course, isn't exactly the right person to lecture anyone on accountability, given his steadfast refusal to answer questions about why he re-signed and stuck by Josh Brown, a kicker who admitted to physically abusing his wife. Manning needs to be a stronger voice in Beckham's ear, too. And Ben McAdoo needs to deliver a lesson, perhaps in playing time, if necessary, every now and then.
Who knows if any of it will work? Beckham is a bit of a puzzle. He has a knack for calmly saying the right things, being thoughtful and introspective, then going and doing things wrong. His emotions can change without warning. He was the picture of calmness and professionalism in his postgame press conference on Sunday. Minutes earlier, he had been inconsolable in the locker room. Minutes later he was in the hallway punching a hole in the wall.
So it's possible Beckham will listen, understand and promise to change, and then continue on his unencumbered celebrity rocket ship ride.
But at least someone is finally actively and publicly trying to rein him in, reminding him that he's 24, not 12. He needed to be shamed publicly, reminded that while he's no criminal and that his off-day trip to Miami broke no rules, "the perception of things makes it different," Manning said. Just like the perceptions he's created by drawing over $100,000 in fines, plus a suspension, plus his constant complaining to officials, punching the kicking net (and then pretending to propose marriage to it), creates an image of a player far too over the edge and out of control.
And that may have been the case on Sunday, when several players, like Manning, suggested "maybe he put too much pressure on himself and emphasis." He drew the spotlight to himself with the Miami trip and his midweek locker-room wrestling show and bristled when it was all criticized, not celebrated. Then he drew the spotlight again after his small performance when he put his fist through that wall in the hall.
"We will talk through it," Reese said. "I know he is a smart guy, and I believe he understands that he has a responsibility being one of the faces of this franchise. And I think he will accept that responsibility."
Maybe he will now that the Giants are finally accepting their responsibility, too.