New York Giants’ star wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr.’s popularity ranks in the upper echelon of the NFL. He brings a superstar aura with him every time he steps on a field. His popularity and star power both drastically increased in a week 12 game against the Dallas Cowboys back in 2014. Beckham, of course, made the most spectacular one-handed grab of all-time, which caused social media to explode.
However, Beckham did not only grab a touchdown reception; he also grabbed worldwide popularity. He graced the cover of EA’s Madden 16 video game, and he firmly established himself as the most popular athlete on New York, the country’s largest market.
But then the Carolina game from 2015 happened. In that game, Beckham petulantly attacked Carolina cornerback Josh Norman, even launching himself at Norman’s head. Immediately following that game, Beckham’s popularity began turning into notoriety. Suddenly, fans became split on how they felt about the once-in-a-generation receiver.
Beckham had another sideline outburst this year against Washington, when he – now infamously – slammed his helmet into a kicking net,in a fit of frustration.
The net, of course hit back, which caused a litany of memes to be bestowed on Beckham. The following week against Minnesota, Beckham threw a fit after he believed he was hit out of bounds.
However, following that outburst, Beckham vowed to change his game. Beckham is not a stupid player. He understands his importance to both the Giants organization, and the league as a whole. He changed his antics and appeared to be enjoying himself on the field once again.
He responded in a big way, racking of 222 yards and two touchdowns with a hip pointer injury to lift the Giants from defeat in a dramatic 27-23 victory over the Baltimore Ravens. Despite his herculean effort, the only thing people talked about the next day was how he removed his helmet in a display of emotion following his game-winning touchdown.
The apathetic response to Beckham’s William Taft-sized day ties back into the fact that people are quick to label Beckham a “diva,” “immature” or even a “distraction.”
I’m not really sure why Beckham has been labeled a “diva.” Is it because he has accumulated a mere two unsportsmanlike conduct penalties for touchdown celebrations?
If so, that is an erroneous reason to label him a diva. Pittsburgh’s Antonio Brown has amassed two unsportsmanlike conduct penalties this season alone, yet nobody bats an eye. If opposing teams do not want him to dance, keep him out of the end zone. Simple math, folks.
As far as Beckham being immature goes, I think it is apropos to compare his antics to that of Rob Gronkowski, a player who is universally adored. Gronkowski has a reputation for partying hard, and almost regularly makes “69” sexual references in post-game interviews. Furthermore, Dallas Cowboys’ rookie running back Ezekiel Elliott recently conducted a post-game interview sans pants.
In regard to the aforementioned Brown, when he was asked about the fines he has accumulated from his penalties, he responded by saying, “Ain’t nothin’ to a boss.” If Beckham did literally any of those things, people would not stop talking about him for weeks.
And finally, Beckham being a distraction is honestly one of the most asinine things I have ever heard. The people who are creating that spin-zone narrative should ask Beckham’s teammates what they think of him.
A big reason why I believe people hold disdain for Beckham is because of his penchant for turning things around on curmudgeons.
For example, people have been – distastefully, I may add – calling Beckham homosexual for his unique haircut and his affinity for dancing. How did Beckham respond? By taking a satirical Snapchat video of him in an ice tub with a teammate, poking fun at the inflammatory rumors.
This year, after the storm of aforementioned net memes rained down on Beckham’s behalf, Beckham responded by incorporating the net into his touchdown celebrations. Social media could not get enough of making fun of Beckham for his faux pas, but as soon as he flipped the script, it suddenly became un-funny. Once again, he threw the shade right back in the face of his haters, much to their chagrin.
He knows how to work his critics, and they hate him for it.
Another easy, blatant reason for Beckham hatred is the fact that he is unquestionably one of the best receivers in the league. If you do not believe me, peruse the stats. In his two and a half year
s in the league, Beckham has recorded an absurd 227 receptions, 3,385 yards, 28 touchdowns and an immaculate 15.8 yards per catch average. Keep in mind this dude is only 23.
It just severely irks me how it even seems like broadcasters cannot go a single quarter without mentioning Beckham or questioning his “attitude.”
Lesser receivers get away with much worse every week, but nobody really cares because talking about those players will not generate interest.
Beckham loves to have fun. When you boil down professional football, or any sport, to its core, its nothing more than a game. Games are supposed to be fun, and Beckham perfectly encapsulates that with his play style.
So keep throwing bricks at OBJ. He’ll catch them all – probably one-handed – and keep building a mansion.