New Giants coach Pat Shurmur has had his first conversation with Odell Beckham Jr., and he came away convinced that the star receiver was "inspired" to have a bounce-back year.
That's at least a good first sign at the start of one of the most anticipated player-coach relationships in the Shurmur Era. The new Giants coach has said repeatedly that he wants to sit and talk with Beckham, and get to know him before he makes any judgements on his often-controversial behavior.
It's doubtful the two had a deep conversation about that in their first call. But it sounded like they took a good first step.
"I've already spoken to him," Shurmur said on ESPN Radio's Golic and Wingo show on Monday morning. "Obviously we can just talk about 'Hey, how's it going? Nice to meet you' and stuff. Talking to him, he sounds inspired to get ready to have a really good year, so I'm looking forward to that."
What will he talk about with Beckham as they get to know each other more? Clearly Shurmur's expectations for his star player will come up. And though the coach was careful to say that this won't just apply to Beckham, he'll obviosuly discuss his behavior and how to do things the Giants way.
"There's such pride and there's such history here," Shurmur said in the radio interview. "I think it's very, very important that we do what's right. I think the word 'culture' is thrown around a lot. I think it really just comes down to doing what's right, and competing, giving effort, and then playing the game with respect."
No one has ever questioned the 25-year-old Beckham's effort, competitiveness, or ability, of course. But "doing what's right" has been an ongoing issue. Whether it's being baited into on-field fights or engaging in inappropriate (and at least one time vulgar) touchdown celebrations, his behavior hasn't always reflected well on the Giants. That was a particular problem in their playoff game in the 2017 season when he led a group of receivers on a trip to a party boat in Miami less than a week before the game, then punched a hole in a wall outside the interview room at Lambeau Field after his terrible performance in the Giants' loss.
Giants officials - including co-owner John Mara - have spoken to Beckham many, many times about his behavior, but little has changed. And with Beckham and the Giants expected to open negotiations on a lucrative contract extension in the near future - and with Beckham already stating that he wants to be the highest-paid player in the game - his behavior is back in the spotlight.
Last Friday, Mara said he believes an extension will get done "at some point," but there no longer seems to be a sense of urgency.
"I first want Pat to sit down with him and for them to have a good understanding of how we are going to act going forward," he said.
Shurmur, for his part, promised Beckham "a clean slate".
"I think what needs to happen now is I need to get to know him," Shurmur said last week. "I need to get to know what makes him tick, and I need to talk to him about what it is that we're looking for from a guy that plays for the New York Giants. And I think those are the things that go back to relationship building that need to happen very, very soon.
"When things happen, there's typically reasons for it. … And I think with all things Odell, we just need to start talking and find out why things happened, and if they're not what is by our standards then we've got to find a way to get it fixed."