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Odell Beckham Jr. Needs to Chill Out

The Browns’ wide receiver is one of the best players in the NFL, but he just can’t help being the center of attention—as we saw on Monday night when LSU won the college football national title.

Odell Beckham Jr. faces an arrest warrant for slapping a Mercedes-Benz Superdome security guard on the butt. While there are certainly many crimes that are far worse committed by athletes, it is hard to find one that is more fitting. With cameras rolling on a night that should not have been about him, Beckham just had to do what Beckham so often does. There is a preponderance of evidence that he is what he slapped.

This happened on the night Beckham’s school, LSU won the College Football Playoff National Championship. It was nice to see Beckham, one of the great players in LSU history, support this year’s team. It was less nice to see him relentlessly draw attention to himself. I suspect the current players don’t care; he is OBJ, after all. But it’s getting hard to watch.

Earlier in the evening, he had apparently handed cash to the players in celebration, which would violate NCAA rules (the school is investigating the incident). You might think the rules are antiquated and unfair, and I’m not here to argue that; that’s not the point. If Beckham wanted to give the guys some beer money, he could have done it just about any other moment of the year and gotten away with it. This was not the time for it.

Beckham wanted to put on a show at the national championship, with himself in the middle of it. It is the same reason he wore a watch worth up to $350,000 during games, in violation of NFL rules. Again, while that rule may be dumb, that doesn’t mean breaking it is smart. It was just another way for Beckham to draw attention to himself.

Beckham behaves this way so consistently that this we have come to expect this from him. Remember, after wearing that watch, he came back the next week and wore a $2 million watch in pregame warmups. You think that was stupid? I’ll show you stupid!

There was Odell, pretending he was a peeing dog to celebrate a touchdown. There was Odell, posing for a photo with Giant teammates on a boat in Miami, six days before a playoff game in Green Bay. There was Odell, punching a hole in a wall after losing that playoff game. There was Odell, turning a regular-season game against the Panthers into a personal UFC match against cornerback Josh Norman.

He threw a sideline tantrum that included a fight with a kicking net. (Apparently Norman wasn’t available.) He complained in an ESPN interview about the Giants. He took credit for the team’s popularity, telling GQ: “I was a main reason at keeping that brand alive. They were getting prime-time games, still, as a 5–11 team. Why? Because people want to see the show.” Sure, the Giants have struggled plenty the last several seasons, but the team is still a four-time Super Bowl championship franchise in the nation’s biggest market.

There are other incidents when he might be innocent, but it’s hard to give him the benefit of the doubt. Like the video that emerged of him with a woman and what sure looked like cocaine. Or the times he ran off the field before the end of the first half and said he needed to get an IV because “I really don't like water.”

This is maddening, because it’s an incredibly long rap sheet, but it’s really filled with misdemeanors. This stuff should all be avoidable. But Beckham doesn’t seem to want to avoid it. He is drawn to it.

Odell Beckham Jr.

By talent and charisma, Beckham should be one of the most likable athletes in the world. Nobody in the NFL is more fun to watch than Beckham at his best. He isn’t just a great player; he is the kind of great player kids imagine themselves being when they go to sleep. There are Pro Football Hall of Famers who couldn’t make some of the catches Beckham has made.

He is an extremely rare talent, he plays hard and he obviously has worked like crazy to hone his skills. His one-handed catch in 2014 is a thing of legend. He battled sports hernia and groin injuries last season, yet still played all 16 games for a dysfunctional Browns team that missed the playoffs, and he surpassed 1,000 receiving yards for the fifth time in his six-year career. 

Odell Beckham Jr. is one of the best, highest-paid and most popular players in the NFL. Somebody who cares about him should ask him: Why isn’t that enough?

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