The New York Giants and Dallas Cowboys will continue a long-standing bitter rivalry with NFC East title implications on the line Sunday at MetLife stadium.
The Cowboys (11-1) will be looking to clinch a division title and avenge a season-opening loss. The Giants (8-4) are hoping to halt the Cowboys momentum while moving a step closer to a playoff spot themselves.
While the blood will boil on the field, there will be mutual admiration coming from the opposite sidelines between the two team’s most emotional and often controversial players in Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant and Giants receiver Odell Beckham Jr..
The two text often and Bryant considers Beckham a Scorpio brother, considering that they were born one day apart, four years apart _ Bryant on Nov. 5, 1988 and Beckham on Nov. 4, 1992.
“You know that is my big dog,” Bryant said. “We have huge, huge, huge respect for one another. We are not going against each other. I want to see him perform. I don’t want to see him perform good against us, just like he wouldn’t want to see me perform good against them. But it’s nothing there between us. It’s all love.”
Both are unquestionably among the best in the league at their position, but they have been lightening rods for things they do off the field or in between plays that have made them kindred spirits. Cameras have spotted both players getting into it with opposing players, namely Washington Redskins cornerback Josh Norman, as well as tiffs with teammates because their emotions have gotten the best of them.
So it’s love. It’s respect. It’s also understanding about what they have to deal with on and off the field in terms of scrutiny that has connected them.
“Yes. That’s perfect,” Bryant said. “You hit it right on the nail. We’re always talking about the game and stuff like that and how each other is doing all that stuff. A lot of stuff outside of football.”
Said Beckham: “I mean, life’s really not fair, so you can’t really sit there and worry about the fairness of it. I think that’s just to distract from what really goes on. It’s just a way to kind of put it on him or I or whatever the case may be, because I’m pretty sure all his teammates know what the deal is with him. The same way all my teammates know what the deal is with me. A lot of stuff that doesn’t get written about or said, talked about or anything like that that goes on with this team, so it’s unfortunate that we have to be the butt of the joke, in the sense, but with great talent comes great responsibility.”
Bryant says he and Beckham are unfairly covered and scrutinized because people don’t understand them or even try to understand them. But they know, if even others don’t.
“I think people don’t do a good enough job of finding out who we really are as people,” Bryant said. “I know him very well. The guy loves the game. He wants to win. That’s his whole attitude, and I feel like there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s kind of hard to understand something that you never experienced, and a lot of people never experienced the things that he has. I feel like – just misunderstood. Just misunderstood, and that’s something that we have to continue to channel and learn how to put it out there.”
What both are frustrated most about is that critics continue to bring up past incidents and won’t let them move on. Both say they have grown and matured.
But they also understand that the spotlight will continue to follow them because of their outstanding play on the field and the media markets they live in.
“It’s who he is,” Bryant said. “He’s a megastar in this league and people want to get a piece of him. It comes with it. Like I told him last night, ‘hey, give them a show. That’s it. Don’t ever stop being you.’ Why? Because as soon as you start being somebody else, you are going to fall off.”
Bryant added that he didn’t mean for Beckham to give them a show on Sunday against the Cowboys.
“Yeah, he can’t do that,” Bryant said with a smile.