Ok, so I’ve had a few days to process the New York Giants’ Odell Beckham trade and I think I’m finally ready to rationally convey my thoughts, and also to maybe try and encapsulate why the reaction is so visceral from Giants fans about this trade.
Yes, the return was less than you would have expected, but honestly, most football trades are. Yes, the Giants seem to have no clear direction with the moves they are making but better writers than me have already broken that down, and I’m not going to rehash all of the weird moves Gettleman has made.
Looking from a fan’s perspective at the New York Giants:
I just want to talk about what the Giants gave up from a fan’s point of view because it’s the fact that we haven’t had a player like him in NY before and probably won’t again that is so soul-crushing.
I grew up a Giants fan and my earliest memories are of Phil Simms basically throwing a perfect game against the Denver Broncos in Pasadena in a Giants Super Bowl Victory. I was a little too young to totally appreciate Lawrence Taylor in his prime, and the first season I can really remember watching every game was the 1990 season.
The “playmakers” on that team were a third-down back (Dave Megget) and umm…the defense. Mark Ingram and Stephen Baker were serviceable receivers, Mark Bavaro was on the downside and nobody cracked 600 yards receiving. The running game was their offense and even that was a boring Otis Anderson/Rodney Hampton combo that combined for 1200 yards by running into the first tackler and falling forward. Not exactly the stuff you wanted to run out to the park with your friends and emulate.
Over the next few seasons, the receiving core would feature the solid but unspectacular Amani Toomer, Joe Jurevicius, Ed McCaffery, Ike Hilliard, and the less solid Ron Dixon, Thomas Lewis, David Tyree (helmet catch notwithstanding) and Tim Carter. The most exciting players were an arrogant fumbler named Tiki Barber, Jeremy Shockey who was always just a little bit worse than he thought he was, Gun Safety expert Plaxico Burress, and Hakeem Nicks with his huge hands and paper mache ankles.
Oh and every now and then Mario Manningham would make you think he might be something, and then disappear for 6 games. Meanwhile, the rest of the NFL had Barry Sanders, or Michael Irvin, or Randy Moss, or somebody else. The Giants never had the game breakers on offense, they won and were effective but it was always defense first.
When the Giants drafted Beckham we heard good things but we had no idea what we actually had. He had some injuries his rookie season, showed some flashes here and there but we still weren’t sure exactly what he would be. Then came November 23, 2014. 10 catches, 146 yards, 2 TDS……and the greatest catch any of us had ever seen.
It was one of those moments that you knew was going to be remembered in NFL highlights forever even as it happened. One hand, two fingers, falling out of bounds and he made the catch. Chris Collinsworth and Al Michaels immediately lost their minds along with an entire city. In 12 games he finished with 91 catches, 1300 yards and 12 TD’s and the Giants had their first game breaker.
I know over the ensuing five seasons there were ups and downs, and he could be frustrating. There was the stupid boat trip, the sideline antics, and the dumb Josh Norman shit..but at the end of the day he made big plays, better yet he was OUR guy. Say what you will but he delivered on the field, he always cared about the outcome of the games..maybe even too much. He is on a pace to have a HOF career and possibly finish as one of the best WR’s in NFL history.
That’s what the Giants gave up in this trade..someone made for NY who was punching his ticket to Canton. Someone who every slant over the middle would make us hold our breath wondering if he would outrun the entire defense and break a huge play. Someone who had us on the edge of our seat every time the ball was thrown in his direction. You can’t replace that.
There’s a new playmaker now, who is also unlike anyone the Giants have had before, and I’m excited about the Saquon era. I do think the Giants made the right call in taking him, but now I fear his prime is going to be wasted like the aforementioned Sanders, Walter Payton, and so many other great backs who played on meh teams for most of their careers.
Teams are going to be even more inclined to put 8,9, and hell maybe even 10 men in the box against the Giants without Odell. Barkley’s prime is always going to have the faint whiff of “What would have happened if they had kept Odell” even if the team around him improves. Maybe he was a little too outspoken about his teammates at times, maybe he was immature at times, but at the end of the day we never saw someone like him before and I doubt we will again. I wish him well in Cleveland and think he’s going to excel in that offense. Every time he scores or makes a big play it’s going kill all Giants fans a little bit inside…because he used to be ours.