Is Josh Norman right in his assertion that there are NFL teams with “a hit” out on Odell Beckham Jr. this season? There’s really no way to know that for sure, unless you want to draw your own inferences from how teams approach handling the New York Giants star wide receiver beginning Sunday afternoon.
What does seem certain is that while Norman is the most vocal is his dislike for Beckham he isn’t the only NFL player who really doesn’t care for the Giants’ star. The Sporting News even voted Beckham one of the 40 most-hated NFL players of all time.
Beckham seems to understand that he’s not well-liked around the league, saying it “could be” that he has become a villain.
“I don’t know if I’m necessarily liked anywhere, really. It just is what it is when we’re on the field; off the field, there’s no hard feelings for me anywhere,” Beckham said. “At the end of the day, it’s football. I can’t control who resents, likes, doesn’t like, in a sense. We just go out there, handle our business, play football and keep it moving from there.”
So, why is Beckham a villain?
Beckham gets that he HAS become a villain to many players around the league. He doesn’t necessarily know WHY.
“Because it is. I don’t know. I have fun. I’m myself at all times and I don’t think it’s necessarily liked all the time, unless you’re on my side,” Beckham said. “I can’t really control that. Like I said, I can’t control who likes, doesn’t like, likes me. It’s football at this point.”
To a certain extent, much of this is about jealousy. Beckham might not be the best wide receiver in football, though he is in the conversation. He is, however, easily the most famous, the most recognizable not only among football fans here in the U.S. but around the world. This despite playing on two 6-10 teams that never even sniffed real playoff contention.
Beckham has done more than make “The Catch” against the Dallas Cowboys, but Norman likely isn’t the only one around the league who thinks his talents have been overblown because of that play.
It is more, though, than Beckham’s celebrity that has brought about the perception that he isn’t liked around the league.
He’s flashy, he likes to celebrate, he likes to show off during pre-game warmups with fancy catches and sometimes even fancier cleats. Yes, sports is entertainment but there are those who still don’t take kindly to efforts to draw extra attention to yourself, and no matter what his motives Beckham can’t help but do that.
Beckham also has a well-documented history of struggling to control his on-field emotions. The game against the Carolina Panthers last season, with three personal fouls in his matchup with Norman leading a one-game suspension, was the most egregious example. It was, however, not the first.
There was the donnybrook in 2014 against the St. Louis Rams. There were also a couple of helmet-slamming incidents. There was the game against the Buffalo Bills last season where Beckham was accused of throwing punches at Buffalo players and was called a “prima donna” by Bills cornerback Stephon Gilmore.
“I don’t know what’s up with him," Gilmore said. "He acts like nobody’s supposed to hit him and you’re supposed to let him catch the ball. He’s weird. He gets mad when you play physical with him. He’s weird.
“He’s different. It’s kind of like you’re playing your little brother and he gets mad at you for being too physical with him — throwing a tantrum. I’m like, ‘Man, we’re playing football. It’s a physical game. ... He’s a prima donna. He feels like he’s on top of the world and nobody’s supposed to do anything to him."
Beckham is still only 23, still learning how to handle the fame and added scrutiny that has been thrust upon him. He still has growing up to do. None of us, in reality, can relate to what his life is like.
Back in 2014, Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman praised Beckham after their one-one-one duel. There is only one way for Beckham to answer all of this nonsense, to get past it and not bring any further unwanted attention or consequences upon himself or the Giants. Remember Sherman’s praise. Use that talent. Help the Giants win games.
Give the rest of the NFL something to really be jealous about.