EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Odell Beckham Jr. stood at a podium on Saturday speaking to the media. Same hair. Same electric smile. Beckham, though, seemed different.
“It’s honestly just great to be back out there. As I’ve been running routes, running around I remember nights falling asleep downstairs, having to get up to my room and literally having to crawl up three flights of stairs to get to my room. So, to be able to walk again, to be able to do the little things, you’re very appreciative of being able to be back out there.”
That’s a stark image. One of the greatest athletes in the world, a young, world-wide celebrity, crawling up the stairs to get to bed because he couldn’t walk.
Adversity has an effect on people, and this was adversity for Beckham. For the first time in his life, football, the thing that has enabled the fabulous life that he leads, was taken away. He wasn’t sure he would get it back — at least not on the level he was accustomed to.
“After seeing my ankle snap it feels like your world turns upside down,” Beckham said. “Life’s just different. I’m just happy, honestly, I’m just happy to be out there running around.”
Beckham hinted at a struggle that went beyond just getting his ankle healthy again.
“I literally watched my world feel like it turned upside down. I watched relationships close to me devour and things go wrong and things go sideways. It was a lot of pain I went through in the last 10 months,” he said. “Just taking it day-by-day and trying my best to make my mindset every day I wake up I’m going to be happy, I’m going to do this right. I’m going do the very best that I can and whatever it is, whatever it is that I was doing just change your mindset.
“I took things personal, and I really have gotten that out of my heart. With doing that it’s left things that I used to worry about out of the equation.”
The Giants have waited since they drafted him in the first round of the 2104 NFL Draft for Beckham to find maturity, to find inner peace that would bring the self-inflicted distractions to an end, allowing the focus to be on his immense talent.
The Beckham we heard from Saturday seems like a player who has finally reached that place.
Here are a couple of other takeaways from Beckham’s media availability.
On his contract
“They’ll get it done when they get it done,” Beckham said. “Let my agent [Zeke Sandhu] and them figure it out, I just come out here and try to get all the plays down, focus on being the best that I can be.
“It’ll all work itself out. Life always does.”
On practicing full speed before getting a new deal
Beckham admitted doing so is a “calculated” risk.
“We’re practicing, these are your teammates, we’re all working together. There’s no extra pushing and shoving and doing too much. It’s all calculated,” he said. “I remember not being able to walk at all. To be able to be back out on the field doing what I love is truly an amazing feeling.
“Just do what you’re supposed to be doing, the rest will take care of itself. Life always has a funny way of reminding you who’s in control, and it’s done that.”
On coach Put Shurmur
“Coach Shurmur’s great. When we first met out in L.A. we just sat down and talked football. To see his mentality and how he’s going to run the ship it’s been phenomenal to come in here every day,” Beckham said.
“He makes it fun for us. He’s just doing a great job.”
On his ankle
Beckham said he is “close” to 100 percent and that “I don’t really feel” the ankle. He added that he feels like he has made “huge strides” recently.
“Maybe two months ago it wasn’t as smooth and I wasn’t getting out of cuts. You kind of get that frustration. You want to get back to where you’re at,” Beckham said. “It’s been a lot of hard work. Lot of doctors, lot of treatment, lot of rehab, all the pain you’ve been through. It’s nice to be here now.”
Extra work after practice
Beckham has spent some days working after practice with Eli Manning.
“I need all the work that I can get. I love being able to get the timing down with 10, being out there with him, and being out there with Shep [Russell Shepard], and with Sterling [Shepard], and with Little Saquon,” he said. “It’s just fun, it’s just fun and I just want to make it fun again. I just want to play football the way I used to play football and play with that love and that passion and do some great things.”