As Odell Beckham Jr. leaped into the air and snagged a ball in front of two defenders like an alligator going after its pray, the crowd on hand in Berea for Cleveland Browns training camp erupted.
Not like Browns fans needed it, but that play on the first day of camp was a reminder of what Beckham brings to the table as an elite wide receiver with freakish athletic ability.
During his five seasons with the Giants, Beckham hauled in 390 passes for 5,476 yards and 44 touchdowns in 59 games. He has made the Pro Bowl three-times and has motivation to catch Jerry Rice on the all-time receiving yards list.
For the most part, what OBJ brings to the table on the field has never been questioned.
But what Beckham detractors will point to as the wide receiver’s biggest flaw is the assertion that he’s a locker room “cancer.” Those statements stem from Beckham’s antics, which have included openly criticizing his quarterback, fighting with a kicking net and generally showing an unrestrained amount of passion when it comes to the game of football.
Despite never facing any real trouble away from the field in his NFL career that would threaten a suspension under the league’s personal conduct policy, Beckham has long been looked at as a bad boy, even being labeled as a bad teammate.
Odell Beckham Returns Fire at Critics
Beckham is now firing back at his haters, sharing what he thinks of those statements in a recent interview with GQ’s Mark Anthony Green.
“You can literally ask any one of my teammates. My on-the-field football never gets talked about unless people are talking about antics,” Beckham said. “They don’t talk about numbers. Where’s the reel at? People only want to focus on one thing. I feel like I’m one of the only people in the NFL where my personal life and my brand are the only things that get talked about. They’ll do a whole segment about the car that I have on ESPN. Why? I’ve never been arrested. Never have and never will be putting my hands on a woman. I’ve never done any crimes. I’ve never done anything but some little petty, dumb stuff that we keep harping on.”
Beckham went on to talk about the OTA drama this offseason with the Browns, which became a major storyline when the star pass-catcher missed all but one session.
“They asked, how could I have changed if I didn’t go to OTAs? I have to be the very best me to help my team. We don’t get paid to be at OTAs,” Beckham ranted. “If you want players to be there, make it mandatory and pay them. I got traded to a new team, I already paid to live here in L.A. for the entire summer. Are the Giants or Cleveland going to reimburse me for what I’ve already paid? Are they going to reimburse my trainers, who I’ve already paid? Are they going to reimburse me for the dogs who I’ve had to put in kennels? There’s a lot of expenses. Are they going to pay for the rehab I was doing? No. They don’t do all of that. That stuff is all on our own. So when it gets time for us to have our own life outside of football, they say something.”
Former, Current Teammates Support OBJ
Whether they want to admit it or not, the Giants miss Beckham, especially with the rash of injuries that have hit the team at the wide receiver position to start training camp.
Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield can relate with Beckham. He plays the game with similar passion and has been labeled as a punk by more than a few people. Following the trade this offseason, Mayfield spoke about Beckham’s reputation.
“You could say the same thing about me. You don’t want to tame it, you just let them be themselves and make plays,” Mayfield said. “That’s who they are, when it comes down to it. The guys in that locker room, you’re going to love playing with them. And I know from Saquon [Barkley] and Sterling Shepard that I’m very close with, I know exactly who OBJ is inside the locker room and who he is to his teammates. That’s the most important thing. People can have their attitudes and perspective on it, but he’s himself and he has his teammates’ back.”
Browns’ first-year head coach Freddie Kitchens spoke on the task of dealing with some big personalities in the locker room in his opening media session at training camp.
“I want all of our players to be themselves because if try to start being somebody you are not, you do not never know who you are,” Kitchens.