Did you go to a New Year’s party Sunday night?
Monday was a holiday and many people had the day off. No matter what awaited at work this week, you were free to dance, imbibe and socialize until the wee hours – if so desired – before tackling your plate starting Tuesday.
Unless, of course, you’re a star wide receiver on a playoff-bound NFL team.
In that case, you’re obligated to go straight home and rest in a hyperbaric chamber for 24 consecutive hours, taking breaks only for nutritious meals, nature calls and film study. Every waking moment must be dedicated to football and the pursuit of victory, to your mental preparation and physical restoration. Doing anything else mean you’re unfocused and undisciplined, immature and irresponsible, a selfish player who doesn’t understand the concept of personal sacrifice for team goals.
The New York Giants’ Odell Beckham and three fellow receivers were pilloried in some quarters for dashing to Miami after dashing Washington’s playoff hopes. The foursome were pictured at a celebrity-encrusted party that drew stars such as Justin Bieber, Jamie Foxx, Lil Wayne and Johnny Manziel, who has morphed into sports’ most irrelevant serial reveler.
Social media was flooded with pictures of the players out and about, including a shot of shirtless group members sunning on a boat the next day. Lots of commentators were hot after seeing the images, including a New York columnist who said the junket was “a bad look. He said every player should “be all-in and concentrate all their effort on winning in Green Bay and not posing with Bieber or being inside the same club on the same night when Johnny Manziel reportedly made and appearance and taking two extra flights when players crave getting rest this time of the year when they are fortunate enough to still be playing.”
Players also should not do anything to upset geezers who can’t imagine doing their job if they stay up past midnight or jet to Miami or hang out at a nightclub seven whole days before a game.
And, shudder, what if EVERY player did what Beckham & Co. did? The entire paradigm on appropriate behavior for 24-year-old stars would be irrevocably altered, setting up the next generation for utter failure. How could Beckham be such a poor example?
“We were going to (Florida) to get our minds right,” he told ESPN. “That’s what we we’re doing. I handle my business. I’m a grown man. I do what I am supposed to be doing. I’m in the building, when I’m supposed to be in the building. I don’t miss team meetings, none of that.”
“I’m not perfect, but everybody knows my passion for football, when I’m on the football field,” Beckham continued. “I’m here for the New York Giants, especially over the next four weeks. Now, we are about to make a run, about to make a push; it’s go time. Everybody is focusing on what they need to be focusing on.”
Except for those of us focused on judging acceptable versus unacceptable forms of release.
Imagine that, instead of diva receivers at a nightclub, we’re talking about offensive linemen in a deer stand. Let’s say center Weston Richburg and some of his fellow trench mates went on a hunting trip after bagging the Skins.
No Instagram photos of the crew downing Don Julio 1942 Magnums; just a couple of cases of Bud Light. Not surrounded by scantily-clad, pretty young women; just leaves and trees and four-legged creatures. Instead of having a wild night out, it’s a day of team-bonding in the woods.
You think that that excursion would be viewed as unfavorably? I doubt it. Certainly there’d be a drastic decrease in the number of posts, segments and comments about the outing.
Whether a player goes clubbing or hunting or stays at home, he’s responsible for showing up at work – be it practice or game day – ready to perform. If Beckham has a bad game against the Packers, last Sunday won’t be the cause, though the escapade will never die, like Tony Romo’s trip to Cabo with Jessica Simpson.
But if the Giants win and Beckham has 15 catches for 200 yards, no one will say a word. The outing is a non-story that became a story because he’s Odell Beckham, social media is everywhere and the news cycle never sleeps.
“To be honest, it was an off day,” Giants captain Jonathan Casillas told reporters. “They had the luxury of going to another state to enjoy and celebrate. We just made the playoffs. No one is saying that no one cannot travel anywhere. I’m pretty sure that there were other people that were up at the same time, just in another state. It just sucks that, those guys get so much attention for, I guess, negative things, and I don’t see anything wrong with it. They didn’t break any rules.”
Running a marathon on your day off wouldn’t break any rules, either, but that’s a different story.
Hanging out for a few hours with the Bieb? That’s nothing.