NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Tuesday, December 22, 2015, 9:55 PM
Michael Irvin tells News that Odell Beckham has revealed to him that he’s target of gay taunts.
Odell Beckham Jr. was not only subjected to gay slurs last week by the Carolina Panthers, he’s been dealing with them every week.
Michael Irvin, the Cowboys Hall of Fame receiver, was about to get on a flight leaving New York on Tuesday afternoon and was speaking on his cell phone to Beckham for the third time in three days since the great OBJ meltdown.
Irvin said Beckham told him the Panthers were trash-talking at him with gay slurs and before the game taunted him with a baseball bat. Apparently, the gay slurs directed by NFL players at Beckham are not new.
Beckham informed The Playmaker he has been “dealing with it every week,” Irvin told the Daily News.
“He deals with it a lot. For some reason, everybody goes after him with gay slurs. He’s a different kind of dude. He has the hairdo out, he’s not the big muscular kind of dude. The ladies all love him. He’s a star. I wonder why people are going in that direction. It blows my mind. I told him he can’t let stuff that people say get to you,” Irvin said.
Irvin said Beckham told him the Panthers were trash-talking at him with gay slurs and before the game taunted him with a baseball bat.
How would Irvin have handled it?
“I would like to think I could handle it correctly,” he said. “But I can’t promise you that. Really, nobody can. That is why they give you leniency for crimes of passion.”
Beckham has become a lightning rod in the NFL. He puts on a spectacular pregame show with his one-handed catches, he has posted numbers that if he keeps it up will make him an all-time player, but he also celebrates touchdowns like he’s performing in a Broadway show. Every score is a moment.
“I don’t think I’ve ever really seen the animosity towards a receiver ever in the league right now what’s going towards this young kid,” Irvin said.
Beckham’s talent is undeniable – catches like this one last Monday against the Dolphins have become routine – but he needs to find his chill in order to become one of the all-time greats.
In the days since Beckham picked up three personal fouls and turned his matchup with Panthers cornerback Josh Norman into a fistfight and was suspended by the NFL for the Giants game on Sunday night in Minnesota, the NFL has banned the Panthers baseball bat, and Panthers coach Ron Rivera has denied any of his players were taunting Beckman with gay slurs.
Irvin, the Cowboys Hall of Fame wideout, has become a big brother to some of the extremely talented young receivers in the NFL. He has that kind of relationship with Dez Bryant. He has it with Beckham, too, and speaks to him every day.
The topic this week, of course, has been Beckham’s behavior against the Panthers.
“He’s contrite about it,” Irvin said. “He can’t believe that it’s pretty one-sided. The attacks are pretty one-sided. He feels so bad this is happening. He also feels like he’s been targeted. I think a lot of players are so upset that he’s getting so much press, so much exposure, without winning.”
Beckham was suspended for his helmet-to-helmet hit on Norman in the third quarter of the Giants’ 38-35 loss to the Panthers. Before the game, Beckham told Irvin that one of the Panthers “pointed the bat at him.”
“He was at midfield with that bat, like they were going to swing the bat on you,” Irvin said. “You can’t lose your cool. He was just telling me they did have the bat and they were pointing the bat at him and saying, ‘Oh yeah, we’re about to swing for it.’”
The Rams were the first team to really rough up Beckham last year. He didn’t take the Rams tactics in stride and teams clearly believe they can get him out of his game by taunting him and getting physical. That could have contributed to his drop of an easy 52-yard touchdown pass on the third play of the game.
He had already been the focus of trash talk by the Panthers in the pregame warmup and body slammed by Norman on the opening drive.
Beckham gains plenty of attention with his flashy play and big celebrations.
“He certainly is flashy and he has fun doing what he does,” Irvin said. “Think about this: He’s the Steph Curry right now of the NFL. People come just to watch his warmups. The one-handed catch warmups and all that stuff. It’s crazy. We’ve never seen anything like that.”
Irvin is attempting to advise Beckham through the most turbulent period of his two-year career. He’s told him he’s not playing in Baton Rouge anymore, He’s not playing in Carolina. He’s playing in New York, where everything is bigger.
“The more you react, the more people will try to rattle you,” he said. “It’s just what they are going to do. Then I give him the old doctor’s remedy. They give you medicine and ask if you had an allergic reaction or did you respond well. Respond to it on the football field with catches and touchdowns. Do what you do and that’s how you beat all of it. The couple of balls he dropped, he had Josh Norman beat both times. I can imagine there is frustration on Josh’s part. He had never been run by like this before. Josh Norman gets into fights with everybody. Every receiver he plays against, he gets into fights.”
Irvin was a big physical receiver at 6-2, 207. Defensive backs didn’t mess with him. Beckham is only 5-11, 198, so he’s going to be tested. Irvin says Beckham is putting together the greatest receiving career — by the numbers, not victories — of all time.
But Beckham has got to grow up. He has to learn to walk away. He can’t be using his head as a missile to deliver helmet-to-helmet hits.
Beckham’s appeal of his one-game suspension will be heard Wednesday. If he loses, he will have plenty of time to digest Irvin’s advice.