Former Giants linebacker Mark Herzlich did not just offer his interpretation on GM Dave Gettleman’s feelings on Eli Manning, he also had a lot to say about Odell Beckham Jr.
Herzlich, a teammate of Beckham’s from 2014-17, was asked on CBS Sports Radio’s “Taz and The Moose” show on Thursday about the recent drama surrounding the Steelers and wide receiver Antonio Brown.
The 31-year-old said he’d read that the issues with Brown and the Steelers have been going on forever and he likened the culture in Pittsburgh to that of the Giants last season — when things spiraled out of control — and cited Beckham’s “distractions” as why things began to go south.
“That starts with head coach,” Herzlich said. “As much as I love Mike Tomlin — and as much as he does not deserve the blame for the antics — I saw it happen to Ben McAdoo. He came in and had a good season and Odell started doing things that were distractions from the team.”
The Giants made the playoffs under McAdoo his first season, but the head coach continuosly covered up for the receiver’s behavior.
Beckham had multiple incidents throughout the 2016 season, which included swinging his helmet at a kicking net, melting down while being guarded by Vikings corner Xavier Rhodes and, of course, the infamous boat trip prior to their playoff game against the Green Bay Packers.
“Ben McAdoo, who was a young coach, let those things go for a long period of time,” Herzlich continued. “When it was time to put his foot down he could only put his foot down to Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie because he was acting out and suspended him. So what happened was there was this unfair balance of power and it was ‘Ok, he can break the rules but I can’t?’ … It was a double standard and once you lose respect from the locker room in terms of no one is doing anything about this guy’s issues, then you have a tough time coming back.
“I think Antonio Brown is in same category. He’s an unbelievable player but is he the guy you want all your eyes on?”
Despite Beckham’s shortcomings, the Giants made him the highest-paid receiver in the NFL with a long-term deal, and while he has a trade-friendly contract, Gettleman said they did not sign him to trade him and views Beckham as part of the solution.
Herzlich, on the other hand, had a more nuanced view of Beckham.
“I think that talent-wise he is part of the solution,” he said. “However, you see what’s happening with Antonio Brown, you see what happens when guys put spotlights on themselves over the team and it’s a recipe for disaster. Odell has had a lot of time to mature. He’s had a lot of time to figure out what he wants to be. I don’t think he has the mindset ‘every single ball needs to go to me,’ but I do think he’s a guy who needs to live in the spotlight.
“If that spotlight shines somewhere else, you might see a guy who is your best player who is not going to be a great leader for your team. To me, if you’re going to build your team around one person, you want that person to not only be a superstar but to be a superstar leader. Right now, that’s not what Odell is.”