What a sad waste.
Consider what Odell Beckham Jr. had in front of him in 2014, when he was drafted by the Giants, and look at where he is now.
Beckham had a chance to become the face of the NFL. Aside from being freakishly talented, he was intelligent, humble and likeable.
I remember interviewing Beckham one-on-one for a story during his rookie season and being blown away how together he was for such a young player. I walked away from that interview thinking, “This guy totally gets it.’’
There was little question he was going to be a lasting star for the Giants and be the toast of the city.
Now, nearly eight years later, Beckham has become a controversial — almost toxic — figure.
His ending with the Giants was unceremonious — they couldn’t wait to get him out of their locker room and traded him to Cleveland in March 2019.
His ending in Cleveland is reportedly coming Monday, when the Browns are expected to release him after coming to a financial settlement just days after Beckham’s father posted a trolling video on social media critical of Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield for not throwing enough passes to his son.
The weird thing is that Beckham’s teammates like him. That reportedly even includes Mayfield. Beckham could have denounced his father’s silly Instagram video and squelched this whole thing. Instead, his silence was deafening, and it hastened his departure from Cleveland.
“I was pretty surprised by the video and the intentions and the feelings behind it. I’d be lying if I said otherwise,” Mayfield said Wednesday. “I thought we had a very open line of communication.”
Once Beckham is released officially and clears waivers (which is likely), he’ll become a free agent. Someone will take a flier on him because the talent is in there — despite the fact he has wasted it for the better part of the past five years.
The sad part is Beckham, who turned 29 on Friday, now must rebuild his career. Hopefully he can do that, because he’s fun to watch.
But he has 216 receptions and 16 touchdowns in 45 games in the past five seasons after producing 288 receptions and 35 TDs in 44 games in his first three years.
I’ve always believed Beckham’s downfall began on that November 2014 night in Dallas when he made that remarkable, gravity-defying, one-handed catch that went viral on highlight shows everywhere and on social media.
That seemed like the moment when Beckham’s stardom went to his head, when he became swallowed up by his own sense of self-importance. And it has gone the wrong way ever since, with passive-aggressive criticism of Eli Manning then and Mayfield now.
Beckham has made himself a case study in how a professional athlete lets success and attention get to his head. The NFL should produce a video presentation chronicling Beckham’s career as a lesson to its young players on how to avoid the pitfalls of stardom.
So, now what?
Beckham has played for two teams in his NFL career and each couldn’t wait to part ways with him in the end. It’s a bad look, one that Beckham hopefully will be able to repair.
That, however, will take humility — and you wonder how much of that he has left.