- Breaking down what the star receiver had to say on a number of topics.
I somtimes find it difficult to parse the words of athletes who, at a point of unfathomable turbulence, success and financial prosperity in their lives, manage to put something as thoughtfully as Odell Beckham Jr. did during his long-form interview with GQ magazine.
He is a genuinely interesting person—pursuing first his internal happiness, seemingly unafraid of the industrial complex that has managed to flatten or reshape anyone with interests traditionally opposed to those of Big Football. Unlike other marquee athletes of his generation, though, he seems to also be unafraid of flashing those moments of petulance, which provide an opening for his critics, thus refueling the endless cycle of what keeps him brilliant and involved in the sport that made him famous.
So take this summation of his headline-making missives with the proper grain of salt. Imagine where you would be at 26, already a millionaire dozens of times over, with an open invitation to every cool and important thing in the universe pending. Chances are, you wouldn’t be on a plane to Berea, Ohio to grind out a training camp practice. That said, here is the good and bad from his sit down:
• While it’s always our reflex to mainline the kind of tidbits that ultimately implicate or criticize someone else, I thought the most interesting part of Beckham’s interview was the way he handled questions about his sexuality.
“I've never had an opportunity to talk about this,” he said. “Honestly wasn't offended. I've never once had no problem with anybody who has their own personal life that they live. I have friends who are gay. It was almost more funny to me. I almost messed with them even more. It's like when someone gives me an ultimatum, I'm usually always going to go to the opposite way of what you want me to go. So when they would say that, I would almost mess with them even more. I have no problem with anyone's sexual orientation.”
For those who don’t remember the journalistic crash-and-burn of the Michael Sam era, in which players were chased down and asked en masse about their acceptance of a gay teammate (to both encouraging and disastrous results), I thought the casualness of this response was notable. The Who cares if I am? vibe, which neither forces him to kowtow to those who irresponsibly speculate about something, nor demeans those who are gay.
• It was fair to call out the hypocritical nature of football’s business side, something Beckham did multiple times during his conversation. It was worth underlining the way he described Giants coach Pat Shurmur texting him after the trade.
“But then to be called like that and then be texted by your coach and be like, “Oh, yeah, I heard the news.” Yeah, you heard the news? It happened because of you. The reason I'm gone is because of you. It was just tough because of the way I initially felt. On the other side of it, I was excited about a new start because I had been—honestly, I had been praying to God the season before this season for a change.”
It’s important to remember that if it had worked out last season, there’s a good chance Shurmur would have gotten credit for finding a way to connect with Beckham, which was without question a percolating camp story around this time last year. Coaches in general are a unique brand, largely deft in the practice of going on offense in private and climbing behind the shield in public.
• Speaking of hypocritical, it was also worthwhile to read Beckham on the comparisons between the way he acts on the sidelines to the way Tom Brady acts, and the racial implications behind how all of it is viewed.
• There were a few moments when he touched on some salient points about voluntary offseason workouts, but I didn’t take his admission that he thought about retiring at the age of 24 as some kind of whiny breakdown. Being honest about his view of the fishbowl isn’t taking fame and fortune for granted, it’s just adding a perspective for those of us on the outside looking in.
• Maybe a too-vague criticism, but I do think the Giants were relevant before Beckham and certainly will maintain their relevance in the post-Beckham era. The conflicting points about both the limits of his position (the dependence on everyone else doing their jobs) and the importance of his one-handed catch feel a little muddled.
Beckham’s criticisms of the team, especially in the Lil’ Wayne interview, forced the Giants' hand to an extent. While he describes last season as an emotional end, he certainly played his part in bringing it there.
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NOW ON THE MMQB: Andy Benoit is high on the Lions in 2019 … Tyreek Hill’s verbal threat warranted a suspension from the NFL … What was former Maryland coach D.J. Durkin doing at Falcons camp? ... and more.
1. Sashi Brown lands in the NBA.
2. The Forbes list of the most valuable franchises has arrived. Rich folks salivate.
3. Good for Trent Williams, who isn’t doing this camp thing until he’s paid to protect his rookie quarterback.
4. Daniel Jones signs his rookie deal.
5. Luke P. banged in Bachelorette tell-all.
Copper goes green, steel beams go rust. Happy Tuesday!
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