Odell Beckham Jr. said he doesn't know if the Giants have a problem at quarterback, that it's "tough" to say whether he's happy in New York, that the Giants are being "out-schemed" and that his own personal greatness is being held back.
In other words, so much for the more mature Beckham the Giants were counting on when they signed him to that five-year, $95 million contract with $65 million guaranteed a mere six weeks ago.
In an interview that even ESPN's Randy Moss recognized as "bad," Beckham, the Giants' star receiver, blew up any pretense that he can keep his desire for the spotlight under control for the good of the team. The Giants have enough problems at the moment, with a 1-4 record and a season slipping away.
Now they have to deal with this distraction too?
That's exactly what this is: an unnecessary distraction, even though it's not clear if Beckham even sees it that way. After the Giants' heartbreaking 33-31 loss in Carolina on Sunday, he said it was just his attempt at "trying to be a leader." He even credited his own words for providing a spark and getting the Giants "to come together as a team, like we did today."
But let's get this straight: This wasn't just about Beckham saying that his team needed to show more "heart," "passion" and "energy" -- words I strongly defended on Friday as things a leader probably should say when trying to spark a dead team. This was showing a complete lack of support for the embattled quarterback and new coach. Neither Eli Manning nor Pat Shurmur deserved to be blindsided like that.
And the idea that a question about whether he's happy in New York is "tough to answer" just six weeks after the owners of this New York football team made him one of the richest men in the league?
What was he thinking?
Clearly, he was thinking about himself, if he was even thinking at all.
But don't be fooled. Beckham knew he made a mistake, even if he later swore, "I don't regret anything I said." He said he texted Shurmur on Saturday because he realized his words "came out the wrong way." Shurmur insisted he didn't force Beckham to apologize to the team, as a report on Sunday said, but Beckham spoke to the team anyway to tell them, "Words can be portrayed in any kind of light."
That said, his words weren't portrayed incorrectly. He was asked if the Giants have a quarterback problem, and rather offer support for a teammate who has been under fire from everywhere, who has helped Beckham become one of the most productive receivers in NFL history, he began his answer by saying, "Uh, I don't know." That's pretty clear.
Even if he's part of the mob that thinks Manning is done, how hard would it have been to say something a little supportive? And why say, "I feel like I'm being out-schemed" to explain why he hadn't been making the big plays he always used to make when he knows that's a shot at the head coach?
It's just a terrible message to say all the problems are the fault of everyone else. And that's exactly what he did when he said, "I don't feel like I'm given the opportunity to be the very best that I can be.
"I watch everybody across the league. All the top receivers get the ball the way that they, you know, should. And if they don't, they say something about it."
Real leaders, though, actually do something about it. To be fair, Beckham did have a strong game on Sunday. He caught eight passes for 131 yards and a touchdown, and threw a 57-yard touchdown pass too, though he also dropped a critical fourth-down pass, muffed a punt into a Carolina touchdown and couldn't hang on to a touchdown catch of his own, too.
But when real leaders speak up, they don't do it in a selfish, attacking way. They don't lament what everyone else can do to make them better; they talk about finding ways to make the team better. They hold themselves accountable and offer others their support.
The Giants certainly have extended that courtesy to him through the years -- over and over and over again. In many ways, they've enabled him by refusing to really hold him accountable.
And they gave him some cover fire here, too. Shurmur clearly wasn't happy with Beckham's remarks. But he didn't let his anger boil over publicly. In fact, when he seemed to get animated in his postgame press conference, it wasn't at his player; it was about having to deal with this whole mess.
"I addressed it with Odell. I addressed it with our team. I publicly declared that I didn't agree with his comments, and I asked anyone that was interested, if they wanted clarification, go to Odell because he's a big man," Shurmur said. "Now I'm not going to give the public a pound of flesh on this, all right? That would make me small, not strong.
"And these are the kind of things, in my opinion, when you have the locker room that we have, will help galvanize them. Because the locker room took care of it.
"And that's all I'm saying on it. Finito. Done."
The fact that "the locker room" had to take care of anything, and even Beckham admitted he was "a little reluctant" to speak to his teammates, proves what a mess this was. It won't be easy to forget that Beckham made it clear he doesn't know if the Giants have a quarterback problem, that he has an issue with the scheme, that he'd probably be happier in Los Angeles.
Everything that happens this season will be in that shadow.
And once again, he has no one to blame but himself.