Odell Beckham Jr.’s 2,000 mile journey on short notice allowed him to escape all the negative energy.
Injury concerns? Hurt feelings? Anxiety off the pitch? Disappointment on the field? They’re long gone, left behind with all those Cleveland Browns No. 13 jerseys.
Beckham sounds and looks like a different person in Los Angeles, where the Rams face Cincinnati in the Super Bowl on Sunday. New start? May be. New outlook? Without a doubt.
“You really feel free,” Beckham said during a virtual media session this week. “When you erase, eliminate all of that, you just realize that you’re carrying other people’s issues, things that they might need to work on, like you’re carrying all that energy.
“It just weighed on me. I feel like that could have been the reason I got hurt time and time again. There was a part of me that wanted to prove people wrong more than I just wanted to be myself and prove it right. So I definitely feel weight lifted off my shoulders, just less energy I’m carrying.
The Mercurial wide receiver, who has struggled with injuries for the past few seasons, was waived by Cleveland in November after a 2½-year relationship turned rocky toward the end. Both teams clearly wanted out, Beckham because he felt he wasn’t starring in offense, and the Browns because they had more headaches than highlights in exchange for 7.25 million dollars per year.
Beckham allowed waivers and had plenty of suitors. The three-time Pro Bowler chose the Rams over Green Bay, New England, Kansas City and New Orleans. All-Pro cornerback and close friend Jalen Ramsey provided a big boost, as did coach Sean McVay and fellow receivers Cooper Kupp, Robert Woods and Van Jefferson.
No one knew exactly how Beckham would fit into such a star-studded list. Some thought he would be a distraction, others even called him a troublemaker. Instead, he’s obviously been a model teammate.
Beckham caught 27 passes for 305 yards and five touchdowns in eight regular-season games for the Rams, providing a much-needed replacement after Woods tore a ligament in his left knee in practice a day after Beckham joined.
Beckham was even better in the playoffs, with 19 receptions for 236 yards and one score in three wins. He had nine catches for 113 yards against San Francisco in the NFC Championship Game two weeks ago.
He takes no consolation in proving anyone – or just about everyone – wrong.
“A younger me definitely would have,” he said. “But I just feel like I’ve come this far. I really know who I am. I know myself. I know what I can contribute. I know all the stories and stuff. … I’m just happy to ‘to be in the position that I’m in, to play in a Super Bowl and hopefully be able to give one last push, all I have for this team to bring home this trophy.
Beckham once thought playing in Cleveland would give him a good shot at the Super Bowl. But his relationship with City soured, in part due to injuries that limited him to two 100-yard performances in 29 games. He became so tense towards the end of his time there that his father, Odell Beckham Sr., posted a video on social media of plays in which Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield did not. not throw the ball to his son.
Beckham hinted at mistakes he made but refrained from blaming the way things went in Ohio or with the New York Giants, who drafted him 12th overall in 2014.
“I always talk about living life with no regrets,” he said. “So for me it was about the lessons and how do you learn from those lessons to benefit you in the future? … There were a lot of moments in my career that I can look back on now and wonder How could I have handled this better? Just know that there are many times when I look back at 29 and wonder how could I have been better in this situation?
“I wish I could give you one, but I don’t want to throw myself under the bus now.”
Beckham remains one of the NFL’s most popular players, a fame that skyrocketed after a Spectacular one-handed touchdown against Dallas in his rookie season. He has 15.2 million followers on Instagram and 4.2 million on Twitter. Hall of Fame wide receiver Michael Irvin as well as Jarvis Landry — they were college teammates at LSU and reunited with the Browns — dropped into his Zoom session to praise him for showing such resilience.
Fans across the country are under scrutiny for Beckham and his girlfriend, singer/fitness trainer Lauren Wood. Their first child is expected any day. Beckham doesn’t even want to talk about the possibility of Wood giving birth during the big game. He doesn’t want to “put energy in the air”. It’s a lesson he’s learned since moving west.
“Literally, my phone is right here just in case, so I’m on call,” he said. “I’m on watch. I’m waiting.
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