Odell Beckham, Jr. Unguarded.
That is the title of the just-released issue of GQ Magazine with OBJ on the cover as well as the cover subject. It is written by Mark Anthony Green with photos by Paola Kudacki.
This piece is an excellent read. The premise of the article is that presumably OBJ has opened up to the fashion magazine’s audience in ways that the sports world was never invited into. The Browns’ wide receiver delves into music, his attitude, fashion, his new Rolls-Royce, the trade that unexpectedly sent him from the hustle and bustle of the advertising capital of the world, New York City, to middle America and Cleveland.
In the interview, he also talks about the moment he thought about quitting pro football.
More so than anything else in the article, it talks about “The Catch” over and over like it was the very thing that defined who OBJ actually was and is.
Which it does.
Very few folks in the NFL paid much attention when the New York Football Giants took him with the 12th pick in the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft. As soon as the season began, more attention was garnered on why the Giants did not select defensive tackle Aaron Donald, who was taken just behind OBJ. Or why the Giants did not get offensive guard Zack Martin, who was selected by the Dallas Cowboys with the 16th pick.
Until “The Catch.”
Here are the highlights in the article regarding Beckham and the Browns:
Are you happier now, or were you happier then?
I always say this: I wouldn’t change anything for the world for where I’m at now. I also always say this: Be careful what you ask for and be careful what you speak.
Who do you think is a better dancer: you or Baker Mayfield?
Baker can dance! He’s going to have to come see me, though! I try to encourage people to be themselves. I try to encourage Jarvis to come out of his shell. Be comfortable being uncomfortable. Like, just live. Life is so precious and so short. That’s really how I think.
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.
Where were you when you got the news (of the trade to the Browns)?
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.
So it was coincidental, or, rather, divine that it was orange.
In December, I was like, “Man, I want the one with the orange inside.” And then I get traded to Cleveland, and it’s just so funny because it was like I had been feeling a shift in my life. I don’t read too much into the signs and all that stuff, but somebody sent me a lot of stuff during that time about what I was going through and how I was feeling a shift, and I was just so ready for Him to take me, and then it happened. So I never question what He does. I never question what He does. I never, never questioned it at all. I couldn’t sit there and be like, “Oh, yes, I’m happy I’m going to Cleveland. Let me go pick out my house, all my clothes, everything, and I’m just gonna go.” You have to think about it—you’re leaving behind an entire life that you created. Moving to another place.
Have you spent a lot of time in Cleveland?
Not yet. The only time I’ve spent time there was when I was playing and when I was there for LeBron—stuff like that. But I think the reason it triggered so much emotion out of me is because it reminded me of how my life worked. Like, I would spend time at a certain place, I would get to know everybody, and then me and my mom would move. I’d spend time somewhere else, and then me and my mom were out. And that was very hard for me, because it’s hard to build relationships with people, and care for people, and love people, and then you have to pick up and then you’re gone.
You probably had as much say in where you moved then as you did when you got traded to Cleveland.
I had no say-so at any point. When I was younger. Now. You know? And I felt like I had moved past my past. I really felt like: Why did we even sign this contract? What did we sign this for? That’s what I felt during the season. Why did we do this deal to not feel long-term, because I don’t feel like y’all are still wanting me to be here long-term during the season. I could feel it during the season. I would be up and down the sidelines saying that, like, “Why did you sign me?” I could’ve just not did this at all.
Before we wrap up, let’s go back to the new beginning. I want to make sure we’re clear on something: Are you or are you not excited about playing in Cleveland?
I’m so excited about the opportunity that I have to be in Cleveland! I think it goes for everything I stand for when I talk about legendary. The Catch was cool. It was legendary, in a sense. But legendary is going to Cleveland and trying to win a championship. And I have to go back to this comment because I said something recently about being the Patriots: Who does not get into this game to be 11-and-5 or 12-and-4 every season, to win their conference, to win the championship, to go to the Super Bowl? What else would you do this for? Every year at the Giants, when they’d ask me, “What are your goals this year?” I would say to win a Super Bowl. There’s no sugarcoating it. Even if you feel like your team can’t do it, the goal is to win the Super Bowl. I don’t understand what else I’m playing for. Playing to have a good season? No, bro. I’m trying to win the Super Bowl.
What’s one thing you’re going to do differently in Cleveland than you did in New York?
I think I’m just going to stop worrying so much about the politics and all that. I’m still trying to navigate how I want to do that. If I’m going to be real and it’s going to get turned and taken, then I’m just here to talk about football.
Browns fans will have their first opportunity to see Beckham in action when the team opens training camp on July 25 at 10 a.m. with the first practice in Berea.