FRISCO, Texas -- If you were expecting trash talk from the never-shy Odell Beckham Jr. coming into the New York Giants' rematch with the Dallas Cowboys this Sunday night, you'd be left disappointed.
Division rivalries can produce a natural sort of contentiousness considering teams play each other twice a year, often with high stakes involved in each game, especially this week with the Cowboys' ability to clinch the NFC East with a win.
But the Giants' star receiver tends to draw attention for leaning in the opposite direction.
Some old-school football purists might be disheartened to learn that Beckham is good friends with Dez Bryant. The two superstar receivers stirred up attention before their Week 1 matchup when they played catch with each other during the pregame.
The next month, Bryant came to Beckham's defense on Twitter after Beckham's emotions cost the Giants a penalty and continued on the sideline. Bryant tweeted, "Football is a game of emotions… I'm sorry for the ones that don't understand that… No harm intended #ExtremeLove." He then tweeted in reference to Beckham, "That's why he my brother."
Beckham also received attention for smiling after his off-the-field friend Antonio Brown scored a touchdown on the Giants last week.
This week Beckham expressed that Bryant's success was something he enjoys seeing even if it coincides with Cowboy wins.
"I'm just happy to see him doing his thing, kind of back to being Dez," Beckham said. "They got something special going on over there, and I know he's very happy to be apart of it. I think that's what makes him happiest is catching passes and winning games."
The commonalties between Beckham and Bryant extend beyond their incredible physical talents as receivers. Both are very emotional players who don't go to great lengths to hide that emotion on the football field or sideline. They've both received plenty of criticism for that, and fair or unfair, it's largely shaped how the public perceives them.
"Life's not really fair so you can't really worry about the fairness of it," Beckham said. "I'm pretty sure all his teammates know what the deal is with him just like all my teammates know what the deal is with me. It's unfortunate that we have to be the butt of the joke in a sense, but great talent comes with great responsibility. I'm not saying you have to accept it, but you have to live with it."
Beckham said he doesn't want to hide from accountability, but hopes that even if people can't forget about his emotional outbursts in the past that they can at least forgive him for it. That's something Bryant can relate to.
"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."
Bryant isn't the only Cowboy that Beckham likes to see succeed. He revealed personal relationships with rookies Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott.
"Zeke is a guy who I was talking to before the season because I know where he's at and I know what he's going to be going through and I've seen already what he has gone through," Beckham said. "So I just try to give him an understanding of how everything works. I love it. I love to see Zeke out there celebrating. I love to see Dak out there with a smile. I played Dak in college so I've known him. We go back a little bit. It really is great to see these guys doing their thing. We just want to minimize that this Sunday."
Beckham even went as far to include Anthony Brown, the rookie cornerback who might end up defending him at times on Sunday. "I love young guys coming into the league and being able to do the thing. I've been watching and [Brown's] been playing exceptionally well."
Beckham's vocal appreciation for so many key members of a rival may be somewhat untraditional, but it does nothing to counter the fact that he is simultaneously a threat to singlehandedly defeat the Cowboys. He is arguably the most physically gifted receiver in the NFL, and the Cowboys are quite aware of his abilities. His rookie season in 2014 Beckham scored four touchdowns in his two matchups with Dallas.
"We just [have to] try to keep him in front of us," Brown said of Beckham. "He gets a lot of yards after the catch. So if he does catch the ball tackle him and just try to contain him as much as we can."
Beckham represents the biggest reason the Giants are a dangerous team. His friendship with various Cowboys might draw attention, but his highlights are far more noteworthy. He might not wish ill to the Cowboys he's developed relationships with, but he most certainly wants to beat them. The closest he would get to trash talk is a gentle reminder of who exactly handed Dallas their sole loss.
"They're obviously a different team from when we played them because when we played them they were 0-1 [afterwards]."