There’s something different about Odell Beckham Jr. this year.
The New York Giants mega-star wide receiver has always been known for the passion with which he plays, the electricity he brings to the field, and the unbelievable highlight plays that make you wonder if he was bitten by a radioactive spider at some point.
But going into his fourth season we are seeing a different, calmer, more chill Odell Beckham. A more mature Odell Beckham.
The impetus to change came on a frigid January night in Green Bay Wisconsin. The Giants ended the night with a painful exit from the playoffs. Nobody felt the pain as acutely as Beckham, who had arguably his worst game as a professional.
“You have no idea,” he said, when asked how much the loss fuels him. “I really thought about it and I’m thinking about it, even growing up, the Giants – historical team. The Packers – historical team. Lambeau Field, ice cold, perfect conditions, everything that you can dream of and wasn’t able to capture the moment. And did it in a horrible way and a way that, you know, I woke up out of my sleep to. But I used that pain, I used that pain and I turn it into positive energy. And I know that I posted it on Instagram the other day, I said, ‘If you can’t see it, you’re going to feel it.’ And that’s just how I feel. If you can’t see where I’m at, then I’ll make sure that you do.”
After Beckham’s game in Green Bay, much was made of his decision to not attend voluntary OTAs. Instead he trained in Los Angeles. It was there that he started putting the pain from the loss to good use.
“No, when I was just training in Los Angeles,” he said. After the season, just the buildup of it all, the pain, everything that I turned into positive energy allowed me to be where I’m at today. So, just in a good place. Just got to keep it there, keep it going.”
“I’m just in a different place, I don’t even know how to explain it. I don’t even feel like I’m here sometimes. My mind is just out of that. But like I said, just trying to get better each and every day. We talk about it, one percent. So, what can I do to get one percent better than yesterday? And that’s obviously the goal. If you stayed the same, you didn’t get better at all. And if you’re not getting better, that’s not why I’m here. So like I said, I’m just trying to get better.”
That different place, the positive mentality Beckham has going into his fourth season, seems to be manifesting on the practice field.
Monday he made yet another sensation with a sensational catch over Pro Bowl cornerback Janoris Jenkins.
So this just happened at #GiantsCamp pic.twitter.com/w3kFtK7gbK— New York Giants (@Giants) August 14, 2017
While the video immediately went viral, not everyone was enthused. Odell admitted that he is occasionally reminded to use both hands when plucking the ball out of the air.
He said, “You’re supposed to catch the ball with two hands, obviously. I know that as well. Sometimes it just happens. If you catch it, hey, great play. But they’ll definitely still sit there and be like, ‘Use two hands.’”
“Get the job done,” he added when asked whether he prefers making spectacular catches. “That’s just where I’m at, just get the job however you can. If I’ve got to fight and scrap for it, whatever I’ve got to do to come up with it, it just has got to be mine. There’s just no other way to put it.”
But the real test for Beckham’s new mindset will come in the regular season, when the games really matter and the team will go through highs and lows. They will also be tested by the expectations heaped upon them. The Giants’ wide receiver group is already being talked about as (potentially) the best in the league. Beckham isn’t having that just yet.
“I guess I’ve got to let them decide that,” he said. “We’re just going to be the very best, I’m going to be the very best me that I can be, Brandon [Marshall] is going to be the best him, Shep’s [Sterling Shepard] going to be the best and the rest of the receivers in our room. Obviously, the goal at the end of the day is to be the best. I feel like you want to write the best story, I want to make the best, everything is supposed to be the best. If you’re not doing it to be the best, I don’t know why you’re doing it. So, yes the goal at the end of the day is to be the best receiving corps in the league, but we have to work for that and be able to earn that title.”
Beckham will also have to learn how to live with another true “Number One” receiver in Brandon Marshall. While Marshall has said that he’s content letting Beckham carry the load, there are some who have expressed concern about how that attitude will survive an NFL season. Beckham did his best to put those concerns to rest, saying:
“See that banner? That’s all I care about. Honestly, there’s one, two, three, four [championship banners] in here. I don’t where they’d put the fifth one, but they’re going to have to make room because we need it. We’ve got guys, Brandon coming in, Shep, we’re trying to win games. We’re trying to win games, we’re trying to put up points, the defense trying to not give up any points. I told the defense earlier, I said, ‘My mentality is, we’re trying to outscore y’all. Y’all make a stop, we make a score.’ They score, we score. It’s 2-1 on us now. Offense is up one on you guys. We’re fighting against the defense. I feel like we have one of the better defenses in the league. I don’t know if it’s the best, but it’s definitely up there. And again, just like them, they’re going to work to be the best defense that they can be. So, it’s just about being the best. I’m excelling at the highest level and I’m competing.”