Odell Beckham Jr. is an interesting guy or, perhaps more accurately, is incredibly skilled at appearing interesting. The Cleveland Brownswide receiver is the subject of a GQ cover story and opened up in a wide-ranging Q&A. There are plenty of zesty nuggets: where he placed the blame on being traded onPat Shurmur to a perhaps-intentional Casper Mattress plug. But perhaps the most delicious is the idea he considered stepping away from football a few years ago.
“I could’ve done any sport in the world,” he told GQ. “Not many people know, but I used to talk to my momma and I’d be like, “Ma, if I was done doing this now, would you still be proud of me?” And this was a couple of years ago, about two or three years ago.
Twenty-four years old. Just off it. To love something so much to a place where it is my everything, and to watch it be tainted, or all kinds of things be in the middle of it. Like, it hurt me to my soul. It be like loving someone and putting them on such a level to where life is about them and you love that person through anything. Through the good, the bad. And to watch them do something so heinous and vulgar. Something just so, like, almost unforgivable. You still love them, but it’s, like, Wow.”
Beckham then hinted a nefarious underbelly, but did not provide a copious amount of specifics.
“Not to get on conspiracy-type talk, but there’s so much other stuff that goes on in the National Football League than football,” he said. “It’s unreal. I said in college that I fear the day that they make the game I love a business and not just the game I love. And as I slowly, surely, seen that, it changed my heart about it. But then, at the same time, I have to feed my family. I have to set myself up for one day when I have kids—like, I need to set their future.”
As consumers, we love these comments because they are candid. There’s no real upside for an athlete to be interesting. This blog post is an example why. Even if Beckham wasn’t intending to make headlines, so many are going to emerge because of the eyebrow-raising content.
That’s why he’s one of the few athletes in sports where a team really has to consider if the juice is worth the squeeze. He’s electric and volatile, capable of doing positive things in a way no other receiver can. He’s also capable of blowing up a team, or an entire franchise.
There’s no predicting what he will say or do next. That’s part of his appeal, but it’s always a razor-thin edge. Surely the Browns knew he’d considered stepping away from the game before this piece came out.
But what if they didn’t? Not exactly the type of thing you like to hear from one of the building blocks for the future.