Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield entered the team’s auditorium where press conferences are held and looked out over the large media crowd assembled.
“This is the most people we’ve had in this room ever,” he said, his face breaking out into a grin.
Welcome to the Odell Beckham Jr. effect, Baker.
The Cleveland Browns formally introduced Beckham on Monday, the start of the team’s off-season program, during a half-hour press conference that also included Mayfield, receiver (and his best friend) Jarvis Landry, and defensive end Myles Garrett in which the new teammates spoke of their excitement about the upcoming season and the addition of Beckham to the mix on offense.
Mayfield, the Browns’ fiery offensive leader, wasn’t ashamed to share with reporters how he reacted when he learned that Beckham was coming to the Browns.
“I had two people at the house sitting there when I found out,” he said, his face again cracking into a grin. “I just started screaming, just this yelling like you would have thought I was on the field on game day.”
Beckham, whom the Giants moved in a blockbuster trade last month for Cleveland’s first-round pick this year (No. 17 overall), their third-round pick, and safety Jabrill Peppers, admitted that the trade caught him off-guard.
Now that he’s had nearly a month to process everything, Beckham said he was at peace with how everything unfolded.
“You know, you started off in New York in your career and, and next thing you know,
I’m here today,” he said. “I’m very thankful for that opportunity. The past is in the past, and I think I’ve come to grips with everything and processed everything. To see my guys here, I’m excited about it.”
Beckham said he first found out about the trade from Giants general manager Dave Gettleman, who reached him on the phone just as the receiver was getting ready to have dinner.
“I picked up the phone and took the call,” he said when asked how he found out that he had been traded.
“I don’t even know how else to describe it, but it was just a lot of emotions, a lot of thoughts that run through your mind. Your whole life’s changing. It’s still the same in theory, but it’s changing.”
Beckham, who at times seemed sluggish — he sounded as though he had a head cold —was accompanied by his mother, Heather Van Norman, who posed with her son after the press conference with his new No. 13 Browns jersey in hand.
Meanwhile Beckham, who gets to play pro ball with long-time friend Jarvis Landry in what he described as a dream come true, at times sounded conflicted between having this opportunity and leaving the friends he made during his time with the Giants behind.
“It just hard to explain. Of course, I’m happy with my guys here, but at the same time you build a relationship with the teammates and those other guys on that team. And that’s really what is the hardest thing,” he said.
“You know, I saw Saquon (Barkley) and Shep (Sterling Shepard) the other night and it’s just different. It’s really the guys in the locker room you go to war with and you wake up and training camp that you go through all those things with, but that’s, that’s really what makes it so hard.
“But now I get an opportunity to meet new friends. So, it’s very exciting. I think this is the biggest blessing of my entire life,” he said.