ORLANDO, Fla. -- New York Giants general manager Dave Gettleman on Tuesday addressed the swirl of speculation around star receiver Odell Beckham Jr., refusing to directly say Beckham wasn't available in a trade but also repeating a phrase his mentor Ernie Accorsi taught him.
"You don't quit on talent," Gettleman said three times during the course of a 17-minute interview at the NFL's annual meetings.
Gettleman began his session with reporters by reading a prepared statement that took two minutes. It referred to two recent reports -- one by NFL Network that Beckham would not take the field this year without an extension to his current contract, and another by the New York Daily News saying the Los Angeles Rams were pursuing a trade for Beckham.
"Neither Odell nor his agent have contacted us regarding either report," Gettleman said. "So to be clear: I'm not going to respond to questions about either report, and as I stated earlier, every decision I make is going to be in the best interest of the New York football Giants."
The Beckham story has been a huge discussion point during these meetings ever since Giants co-owner John Mara said Sunday that no one on the roster is untouchable and declined to say whether he thought Beckham would be on the 2018 roster. Gettleman rejected several opportunities Tuesday to answer that same question, responding to repeated attempts with answers like "I'm not going there," "Next question" and "He's on the team right now."
"He's not on the block," Mara said later Tuesday. "Is that going to stop clubs from possibly calling us? No. But he's not on the block. We're not shopping him around."
"I don't want him to be traded," Mara continued. "I want him to be a Giant. I can't say it's a 100 percent guarantee it will happen. Can't say that about any player.''
During his opening statement, Gettleman did, without using Beckham's name, raise the issue of "distraction" and his responsibility for managing that.
"One of the most important responsibilities that any GM has is to eliminate internal and external distractions," Gettleman said. "It's my responsibility to create the atmosphere that allows players to play and coaches to coach. That's part of my job, and I really believe that."
Later in the interview, Gettleman was asked what type of "distraction" he considers to be too much, and he responded with one of his trademark parables.
"Back in the day, when you didn't work from home, you'd walk into your office and you'd know the person in the third cubicle on the right was a pain in the neck to deal with, and you knew the person in the seventh cubicle on the left was a pain in the neck to deal with, and you knew you were going to have to deal with them at some point during the day. Did you want to go in? No," Gettleman said.
"My responsibility's to create a locker room atmosphere where they want to be there and they can focus on their work. Listen, we're all human beings, and sometimes as hard as we try to put things in boxes, you can't always do it. So that's a big part of my responsibility, to eliminate those distractions so that coaches can coach and players can play."
Gettleman also acknowledged that things were different in today's NFL than they were when he got into the business, and that teams have to manage certain locker room situations differently.
"Times have changed," he said. "Were there guys back in the '80s and '90s that were great, great players that were flat crazy and their teams won? Yeah, probably, because it was like we were a little more tolerant. I mean, I'm an old man. When I played, I didn't care about Joe Schmoe being a knucklehead. It's different now. These guys are different."
Beckham has run into trouble after on-field tantrums and some off-field issues, such as the Miami trip with his wide receiver teammates the week before a January 2017 playoff game in Green Bay and a recent social media video that showed him and a woman in bed with a pizza, a brown cigarette and a powdery white substance. (Gettleman joked about the video, saying, "All I saw was the pizza -- look at me.")
But within the walls of the Giants' building, many say he's a good teammate and a hard worker. Gettleman acknowledged the latter at the tail end of Tuesday's interview.
"The kid works his fanny off," Gettleman said. "His [ankle] rehab is going terrific. He sends us pictures, sends us a video about him running. He's an excellent worker."
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