PHILADELPHIA -- There are times when it's impossible not to like Odell Beckham Jr. He can be charming, honest and human. He's obviously a spectacular player. Plays like the one-handed touchdown catch he made on Sunday can make it almost easy to overlook his chronic immaturity.
But somehow it always comes back to that.
And so it was on Sunday, in the aftermath of the Giants' third straight loss, a 27-24, season-killing heartbreaker in Philly. In the middle of it all, Beckham broke out his inner, unrestrained child again by celebrating a touchdown by crawling like a dog and then pretending to pee on the field.
It was pathetic, crude, totally inappropriate and, oh, by the way, against the rules. It also seemed like a ridiculous celebration considering it was the Giants' second touchdown of the season, coming late in their third game. Their offensive futility alone cried out for something more restrained. With the Giants still down 14-7 with 12:45 remaining, perhaps he should've at least avoided drawing a 15-yard penalty.
He didn't, and of course the referee threw the flag. After the game, he sounded absolutely ridiculous explaining why he had no problem with the fact that he's a 24-year-old professional athlete who thought it was OK, in the fourth quarter of a game in which his team was trailing, to risk a penalty by pretending to pee like a dog.
"I don't know. I was in the end zone. I scored a touchdown. I'm a dog, so I acted like a dog," Beckham said with a straight face. "I don't know if the rulebook said you can't hike your leg. (The official) said I peed on something, so I was trying to find the imaginary ghost that I peed on. But I didn't see any.
"But either way it goes, you play football. I wear red and white. I don't wear black and white with stripes on it. I don't make calls. I just play football."
If he only did just play football, Beckham would be the most beloved athlete in New York. He might still be because of all his talent, and the fact that he's about the only thing that can save the Giants and their awful offense now. But there's always something else -- on-field fights with Josh Norman or other cornerbacks, an ill-timed trip to Miami before a playoff game, a fist through a wall after it or just a really dumb celebration at a really dumb time.
It's like he can't -- or perhaps just won't -- get out of his own way.
Giants head coach Ben McAdoo didn't have a lot to say about Beckham's dog act. It wasn't clear that he even saw it. "I'm going to have to see what took place there," he said.
When told what the celebration was and asked for his reaction, McAdoo said only, "Next question."
But he did speak up, at least a little, on the result of the celebration, a penalty that was assessed on the ensuing kickoff. "We don't want to be kicking off from the 20-yard line," McAdoo said. "That's not smart football and we aren't playing smart football."
When told about what McAdoo said, Beckham said he understood.
He also indicated he didn't care.
"When I get in that end zone I'm going to do what I do and try and spark this team and the consequences are going to be what they are," Beckham said. "It's like life. You have to deal with consequences. And that's something I can take. We were motivated from that. It didn't set us back any."
That's technically true, perhaps only because on the Eagles' first play from scrimmage on the next drive (all the way up at their own 29, thanks to the penalty), Giants safety Landon Collins bailed Beckham out by forcing a fumble that the Giants recovered. That led to Beckham's spectacular one-handed touchdown grab, one he celebrated with a fist in the air.
On a day when the Giants locked arms on the sidelines during the national anthem in a show of solidarity, and three of Beckham's teammates took a knee to protest racial inequality and the recent offensive marks from President Donald Trump, that touchdown celebration certainly seemed pointed and appropriate. It was even mature.
Asked if that celebration had meaning, Beckham said, "Did it look like it? OK. Well if it looked like it, then it might have been something."
If it was, it was a strong statement that could easily make Beckham likeable again, if only two minutes earlier he hadn't been peeing like a dog.
"We needed a spark," is how Beckham justified his leg-lifting. "I don't care if you kick it from the 5-yard line from our side (after that); we need to make up a play."
A play, yes. And nobody makes bigger or better plays than Beckham. But at some point, he needs to mature and understand the plays are the things, and the rest of it is just noise that neither he nor his teammates need. He needs to care that his selfish, ugly act nearly cost the Giants on Sunday. And there will come a point where even he's not good enough to overcome that.