A “very thankful” Odell Beckham Jr. spoke to media Tuesday, the day after signing his record-breaking mega-contract with the New York Giants. Here is the full text of his remarks.
Q: Is it a relief to get (the contract) done?
A: Yeah. You kind of dream about this moment all your life. In fact, you’ve dedicated everything, you sacrifice weekends, your parents have sacrificed weekend after weekend traveling, doing this and that just to be able to get to this point, so it is a relief and it’s a wonderful opportunity for myself and my family.
Q: Can you explain that initial exhilaration that you felt because everyone saw that video of you and Sterling Shepard in the locker room – what was going on there? Play-by-play that for us.
A: I was just talking to my agent (Zeke Sandhu) and then my teammates, my brothers Shep and those guys just started clowning around. It feels that much better when your brothers are there for you and they’re riding with you and they’re behind you. It just was a special moment. I’ll definitely remember that.
Q: What does the title of “highest paid wide receiver” mean to you?
A: I just wanted to get the contract done, whatever was going to happen with it was going to happen. It’s not like it’s going to change the way that I want to play and the way that I want to perform. I’m more, like I said, relieved to get it done and just be able to start a new chapter of my life. It’s exciting, and I’m very thankful for where I’m at.
Q: From the outside looking in, it looked like it was a fairly smooth negotiation. I’m sure there were a few bumps here and there, but can you just talk about the relationship with Pat Shurmur and how important it was for him to build a relationship with you and help this along?
A: Since the day we were in LA and we met up early in the morning, I drove out there to see him, and just from the minute we sat down and talked even knowing when we hired him, I had asked (Stefon Diggs) and those other guys about him and just the relationship we’ve been able to build has been really amazing for me. It’s been really beneficial. It kind of reminds me of the relationship I had with my high school coach, who is somebody I still talk to this day, a guy who taught me to be a man and do these things, so the relationship that we have is very good. I love everything he’s done since he’s walked in the building and I’m just happy to be a part of it.
Q: Did you ever doubt this would happen?
A: No. I felt like it was going to happen. Like I said, God’s plan is really what it was going to be. It just was a matter of when. I knew that I was already taken care of before this happened, and like I said, I was just happy that it happened.
Q: Do you think this contract puts extra responsibility on you as far as being a leader and living up to such a contract?
A: I don’t know if it puts any extra that I haven’t already put on myself. Coming in early in training camp, being able to be here and knowing where I’m at in life, and knowing that I do need to be a leader, and there are guys that are watching me and I need to be there on days that I need to be bringing energy somewhere else. I don’t know if it’s any extra responsibility that I didn’t already put on myself going into this year, year five, being a vet. I couldn’t say it was any extra, but I know that my goals are if not the same, higher. I just want to be able to be my very, very best.
Q: There’s a select number of players in franchise history – (Lawrence Taylor), (Eli Manning), Phil Simms – who are revered by fans. This gives you an opportunity to get there. How much does that mean to you to be able to do?
A: That’s a great list to be mentioned in. The Giants fans, I love them. I love everybody who’s supported me wearing a 13 jersey, everybody who’s a Giants fan. They’re diehard Giants fans, and their love and support that they’ve given me since I’ve walked into this building has allowed me to be able to go out there. It’s extra motivation to go hard. To be able to be mentioned with those guys and hopefully be able to do things that they did, hang up banners – that’s always the goal.
Q: What was your role in the negotiations? What was important to you?
A: I really let Zeke handle a lot of it. The most important thing for me to do was be able to be out here, be able to run, be able to practice, be able to do all these things, kind of not worry about it in a sense. I can’t say that I wasn’t worried about it because it was in the back of (my) head. There’s way that you (can’t) worry about it, but just knowing that it was going to be alright and it was going to be worked out, it just kind of put that trust in Zeke and the Giants to all get it done.
Q: Were you worried that it might not get done by the start of the season?
A: No. The season is very, very close. Ultimately, if it was the day before, two days before, I had no doubt that it was going to get done. I’m just happy that it is done, and it’s over with, and now you can move on and be great and do all those things that I’ve always dreamed of doing.
Q: What does it mean to you that your teammates were so happy for you?
A: Like I said, that was everything to me. Shep, to cut all the music from “All About the Benjamin’s”, just being able to vibe with those guys, that’s something that I feel like in the past, not necessarily we didn’t have the same chemistry or same bond, but I can feel more a part of this place. To have them happy for you, you can’t ask for anything more. It would be the same if the shoe was on the other foot.
Q: So much was made about your comments last year about being the highest paid player in the league. Did your perspective change at all in the last year about a contract and what that meant for you and your legacy?
A: You see Matt Ryan did his contract and you really have to snap back to reality and be realistic. He came and set the bar very high, so it was just a matter of getting what you feel like you earned and you deserved, and I think it’s very fair on both ends what we’ve done here. I think we’re both happy and I’m just excited about this season and be able to keep building on it and keep getting better. I’m just excited.
Q: You’ve talked in the past about what you want your legacy to be and there was a time last year when people thought the contract would be your legacy. Do you feel that it’s more than that right now?
A: I think it’s always going to be more than that. You always have steps. For example, any time you have adversity in life and you have those moments, you’re like I don’t know how I’m ever going to overcome this, how am I ever going to get past this, and then you move on and you do get past it. Then another one comes and you’re like, I don’t know how I’m ever going to do this, but you move on. This is kind of the same. There’s always little steps and chapters, whether it’s a Super Bowl, whether it’s the contract, but these moments come, they happen, and then hopefully, win a couple Super Bowls and it’s not the contract that was the big thing. It’s just little things that happen in life that are steps for where you’re going.
Q: John Mara said it was important that you showed signs of maturity this offseason. How do you feel like you’ve matured and do you feel like you needed to show that?
A: Do you see this polo? I’m growing up. Honestly, it just was something that, I won’t say proud of anything that’s ever happened, but I’m able to take everything that’s happened for me and make myself into a man and learn from those mistakes and be able to look myself in the mirror and have to deal with those things. It wasn’t the best thing to happen to me to date, but what I got to learn and take and grow from, was everything that I needed in my life and now I’m able to take that and keep going forward and just be the best me that I can be.
Q: When you initially hurt your ankle, did you have any doubts at that moment this day might not come?
A: No. I didn’t know if it was going to be this year or next year, I knew that some point in time in my life, this was going to happen. I work too hard, I dedicated my entire life to this game. I passed up on other sports to play this one. There was no doubt that it was going to happen. Yes, it was scary when it happened and that all runs through your head, and I think that’s the best part about this is now I don’t have to worry. Now I can go out there 100 percent. Some guys, you’re out there playing and you’re thinking about a contract and you’re thinking I don’t want to get hurt, I don’t want to do this, and now that it’s behind me, I feel like there’s no worries. It’s a weight lifted (off) my shoulders.
Q: To follow up on that, you have been practicing hard with that risk before the contract was in place. How much was the risk a factor on your mind but also just trying to prove to the team that you’re doing the right thing?
A: Calculated. Calculated risk. You know what you get when you’re out there, you’re competing against your teammates, going against Eli Apple every day, he knows that I’m coming off the same thing, the ankle injury, rehab, all these things. The same way I’m not going to put myself in harm’s way, he’s not going to try and do anything to risk that as well. It was a collective effort coming from these guys being able to come here, slowly build yourself up, compete against them and jump in here and there. I’ve always practiced hard even when we were at LSU, (Jarvis Landry) and I. I remember certain periods, I know that it was eight or nine plays and I’m going eight or nine plays in a row and the ball’s coming at me every single time. If we didn’t get it right, coach was going to repeat it. They have the GPS trackers on us, my player load has always been high. I feel like I practice that hard so that way when it comes to the game time, it’s nothing. It’s easier if anything, than anything I’ve done the whole week.
Q: There are guys who get a big contract and their performance suffers because they’re set for life. Have you talked to yourself and said, ‘not going to be me’?
A: Yeah, I don’t think that’s ever been a plan. This is kind of just something that you get out of the way. Honestly, it sounds crazy enough, but I don’t think I’ve done anything really since I’ve been here. It’s not what, I have goals for myself. I don’t think I have truly been able to achieve them even with the success that I’ve had. It’s not really where I want to be. Like I said, before I was even in the NFL, I wanted to be legendary. Yeah, the money is great, you can take care of your family, you can take care of kids one day that you’ll possibly have, but my goal was always to be in the Hall of Fame, to win trophies, to be able to leave a legacy that will be remembered way past any money that you make.
Q: In the five years I’ve known you, I have never seen you have so much fun as you have had this past month of training camp, playing to the fans like I’ve never seen you play before. How important was that for you to have that kind of fun despite the drama of the contract?
A: I think it just happened with life and being in the position I was in. I know I bring this up all the time but I really remember last year I was just getting into a new spot and it was literally the week that I was getting into the new spot, I broke my ankle. I’m back in that same house with different memories and as I walk up the steps now, I’m sitting there and I remember those nights falling asleep downstairs, going to get up and you can’t put pressure on your foot, having to crawl upstairs. Once you see everything flash in front of you, you have a different perspective, a different outlook on life. I just feel back to myself and having fun and being able to bring energy and light where it needs to be shined, and truly thankful for (?) putting me back together. It was a long, long process. My agent was talking to me about it last night, as you all know – I won’t tell the story, but he blew both his knees out bad. You can’t make this up. He was just saying how much he appreciates how hard I work at rehab because he’s going through rehab as well right now and sees there’s days when you’re going to be frustrated, there’s days when you’re going to be down, but you just keep fighting and I’m here where I’m at today because I kept fighting. It’s just a lot that went on and it makes you open your eyes a little bit.
Q: Does it make you emotional to think – Jarvis put up that picture of you and him when you were what, five years old? When you look at a picture like that and you see what you and he have accomplished, what goes through your mind?
A: Everything. Everything that I ever talked about from the minute I took a drive down to Tuscaloosa to go to a 7-on-7 with him and a couple other guys. Ameer Abdullah was on the team, there were a couple people there and I looked Jarvis in his eyes and I told him, I want to be on the same team as you, I want to do some legendary things. Honestly, he was one of the first people I called because without him, I truly don’t know where I’d be at in life. I knew I was always going to be good at football but when it came to legendary, when it came to working, when it came to the extra reps, when it came to staying after, it was really all something I learned from him. I’m just so happy that when it was his day, how happy I was, I felt like it was my own. It’s a truly amazing story how far we’ve (come) and I love him to death and I can’t thank him enough for everything.