Green GQ: Odell Beckham Jr., Unguarded
“Are you worried about the OBJ brand shrinking by playing in a smaller market like Cleveland?
I forever will have love for the New York fans. They gave me my first home. But there's this sense of entitlement—like I was made there. And in my head, that was the first place I had the opportunity to show the world what God had set out for me to do. It didn't matter where I was at. Now, did it help that it was Sunday Night Football for the New York Giants versus the Dallas Cowboys? One thousand percent. But The Catch happened around the entire world. I feel like it wouldn't matter where I was at—once you got hooked onto who I was and what I was doing. And who knows? If I was in another place, you don't know if the numbers would've been more or less.”
Did you like the added pressure that comes from playing for a New York team?
I loved it. Not for attention purposes. I just loved New Yorkers. They're such a unique group of people. Good or bad. It's both sides. But God made me. You know what I mean? God made me. That's just where he gave me my first opportunity to show where I was at. It was like lightning struck for me. I remember looking on Instagram after the game [with The Catch] and my followers went up, like, 100K. I was like, This is crazy. And then the next week, going into practice, 200K. It was going at a rate that I was like: If you were to ask me five years ago if I would've had 13 million followers on Instagram, I would've told you, “Nah—no way I would have 13 million followers.”
Do you think there's any validity to the criticism that you're not a good teammate?
You can literally ask any one of my teammates. My on-the-field football never gets talked about unless people are talking about antics. They don't talk about numbers. Where's the reel at? People only want to focus on one thing. I feel like I'm one of the only people in the NFL where my personal life and my brand are the only things that get talked about. They'll do a whole segment about the car that I have on ESPN. Why? I've never been arrested. Never have and never will be putting my hands on a woman. I've never done any crimes. I've never done anything but some little petty, dumb stuff that we keep harping on. They asked, how could I have changed if I didn't go to OTAs? I have to be the very best me to help my team. We don't get paid to be at OTAs. If you want players to be there, make it mandatory and pay them. I got traded to a new team, I already paid to live here in L.A. for the entire summer. Are the Giants or Cleveland going to reimburse me for what I've already paid? Are they going to reimburse my trainers, who I've already paid? Are they going to reimburse me for the dogs who I've had to put in kennels? There's a lot of expenses. Are they going to pay for the rehab I was doing? No. They don't do all of that. That stuff is all on our own. So when it gets time for us to have our own life outside of football, they say something. When the game is done with you, they chew you up, spit you out. You're done. You're done. I have to take care of myself and my family. Period. I talk to everybody in the locker room. When someone gives me free stuff, I ask them to send a hundred of them for my teammates. A hundred Sprayground bags… They put them in the locker room. I asked for them to send me Casper mattresses. They sent me 100 Casper mattresses for the staff and the team.
It seemed like the general consensus among New Yorkers was that the Giants didn't get enough for you in that trade.
I didn't care what they got for the trade.
Where were you when you got the news?
I was in Paris heading to dinner. I saw the calls and was like, “Wow, I wonder where I'm going.” They had been talking about trading me. They could never get past my past. There's always that past that whatever happened, I would never be able to outgrow it. That's why I don't try to bring none of this to Cleveland. I don't even care. When I get there, this is a fresh start for me.
But how'd you feel in that exact moment?
My initial reaction was not disappointment.… I felt disrespected. Like, after everything I've done for them. This is me being honest: This team has not been good for the last six years. Period. Even the year we went to the playoffs and everyone was talking about this and that. And we went there, and I didn't have a great playoff game. Don't get me wrong, I had a terrible game. But I left the game with seven targets, and I'm supposed to be your number one receiver. I left the game with seven targets. We lost. They scored 40 points. It's just all bad. I felt disrespected, because I felt like I was a main reason at keeping that brand alive. They were getting prime-time games, still, as a 5-and-11 team. Why? Because people want to see the show. You want to see me play. That's just real rap. I'm not sitting here like, “It's because of me.” But let's just be real. That's why we're still getting prime-time games. I felt disrespected they weren't even man enough to even sit me down to my face and tell me what's going on.
Who, specifically, is “they”? The G.M.?
The G.M. And I'll forever have respect for [Giants president and CEO] Mr. Mara. Everything he's ever done for me, he's shown nothing but love. Even when we were having our talks, it was coming from a place of love. I could always feel it. So I'll forever have respect for him. But then to be called like that and then be texted by your coach and be like, “Oh, yeah, I heard the news.” Yeah, you heard the news? It happened because of you. The reason I'm gone is because of you. It was just tough because of the way I initially felt. On the other side of it, I was excited about a new start because I had been—honestly, I had been praying to God the season before this season for a change.
You felt like you just couldn't play there anymore.
I can't do this anymore. I just can't do it. I wasn't happy. I wasn't in a good place. And like I told you earlier, I feel like everything is about happiness, and I just was not. And even thinking about my car: I had ordered that car in December.” Link
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