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Vacchiano: Tyree says you can count on Odell to use his head

Published April 25th, 2015 by David Tyree

Odell Beckham has a spectacular one-handed touchdown catch against the Cowboys.

All it took was one spectacular catch last year to change Odell Beckham’s life forever, in a way few could understand. One of those who could was David Tyree, who once pinned an Eli Manning pass to his helmet in Super Bowl XLII, and his life was never the same.

And while he never got the level of fame that Beckham achieved so quickly last season, Tyree still understands how hard it can be to handle the unending attention, the offers, the media requests and the adulation and demands of fans that come with it. For the wrong player or person it could be too much to handle.

But Tyree isn’t worried about Beckham at all.

“I don’t know if it can get more torrential than what he experienced his first year,” Tyree, the Giants’ director of player development, told the Daily News. “Expectations are high. I know a lot of times we talk about how we overcome adversity, but some of our biggest challenges might be how we handle success.

“He’s up for that right now.”

That’s saying a lot, considering the type of life Beckham has had since (and during) his incredible rookie season, when he caught 91 passes for 1,305 yards and 12 touchdowns in just 12 games. He’s hung out with LeBron James and his childhood hero, David Beckham. He went to the Pro Bowl, where Hall of Famer Michael Irvin predicted he was destined for greatness. He’s produced more viral videos of his athletic feats than he would’ve done if he was a cat playing the piano.

He’s endorsed products, started new business ventures, signed thousands of autographs. And of course he made the rounds in Phoenix during Super Bowl week, where he was named the NFL’s Offensive Rookie of the Year.

The downside of that is every move of his is now watched and every word he says is subject to a mass interpretation. That’s particularly true in the social media age — an age Tyree is glad to have missed.

Giants receiver David Tyree (l) hauls in a Eli Manning's pass in the fourth quarter of Super Bowl XLII.

GARY HERSHORN/REUTERS

Giants receiver David Tyree (l) hauls in a Eli Manning's pass in the fourth quarter of Super Bowl XLII.

“I think he’s handled things extremely well,” said Tyree, who was promoting an appearance at Master Park’s Black Belt America in Morganville, N.J. on May 2 to benefit the Traveling Guitar Foundation — an organization that provides music education and instruments to schools whose art and music budgets have been cut. “He’s out there in (the) social media world. He might have had some things that are just reflective of his age and his generation, but nothing that has embarrassed or brought any kind of shame.

“There are just things he can learn to do better, but I think he’s doing great with that.”

It’s true, Beckham’s only apparent misstep was a minor one — a long, rambling Twitter rant in early March that vaguely seemed to be about the negative nature of social media. It was odd and harmless, but it definitely caught the attention of some in the organization, including fellow Giants receiver Victor Cruz, who spoke to Beckham about it and reminded him that “anything he says can be a headline.”

That truth in itself is a difficult minefield for a 22-year-old to navigate. Add in the other pressures of Beckham’s fame and fortune, and Tyree is glad he was older and more settled in life when his fame got its sudden surge.

“You’ve really got to be firmly rooted and in a good firm identity,” Tyree said. “Your character needs to stand that kind of test. And I think that’s really challenging for somebody his age. My challenge was a little bit different. I was 28 years old. I was married. I had children. My life was a little bit more settled and anchored.

“I think he’s making the right decisions,” Tyree added. “If he could navigate this first year, I have more reasons to have confidence that he’ll continue to grow, mature and make better decisions. He wants to be a leader. He plays with fire. He’s never been a problem kid. So I think considering what he’s encountering, he’s doing extremely well.”

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