The New York Giants wide receiving corps took a quick jaunt to Miami after Sunday’s season finale. Boots were worn on boats, pop stars were aplenty and fun was had. Odell Beckham Jr., a human lightning rod, doing this with a playoff game looming was manna from blog heaven. The off-day festivities will be a hot topic through the weekend, especially if the Giants wideouts don’t produce against a depleted Green Bay secondary.
A rational person could argue that hitting the open water six days before a football game probably won’t have a big impact on the outcome of said game. The same person could argue that the trip presents bad optics and unneeded distraction.
Members of the Giants not invited to the Bieber bash were predictably asked about the outing. And Eli Manning provided a master class in diffusing a potentially explosive situation with humor.
"“I think as a team, we always pride ourselves in being well prepared. So when I saw some of those pictures, I was a little disappointed just because they obviously didn’t pack accordingly,” Manning said. “They didn’t have any shirts, obviously, and (were wearing) long pants, no shorts or flip-flops or anything. So I’m disappointed in the packing and not being prepared for that situation.”"
Manning’s above-average dad joke is really the best way he could have handled the situation. As leader of the team, he needed to at least acknowledge some find the trip a serious breach of seriousness with the playoffs looming. As someone who needs to be in sync with his wide receivers, he couldn’t really criticize them — even if he thought the Miami trip was ill-advised.
"“Guys want to get away for a day. I think they were a little low on Vitamin D, getting a little sunshine, get their Vitamin D up and make sure they were healthy for the cold weather in Green Bay.” …. “I was telling people that I was the one who took the photo,” Manning said, “because they wouldn’t let me in it without my shirt off.” "
Look, the photos of Beckham and his teammates partying are an ink-blot test. They can support any narrative an outsider wants to believe in. I tend to subscribe to Manning’s theory that a similar party in Manhattan wouldn’t have gotten the type of attention this one did. But, honestly, a Beckham-Bieber-Manziel-party boat headline is too juicy to pass on.
Perhaps I’m giving too much credit to Eli for his ability to make the third day of this story revolve around his harmless quips. If that was his intention, he was wildly successful. The media is quick to admire a good, self-deprecating soundbite and that’s what Manning gave.