Smiling, Odell Beckham Jr. claims he doesn’t take satisfaction in proving doubters wrong. A younger him, now that’s a different story.
The Los Angeles Rams wide receiver, who has Super Bowl MVP odds of +2500, grew to be renowned for his spectacular catches at the onset of his career with the Giants. Then he was criticized for outbursts and conduct away from the game, preluding his trade to the Browns in 2019 and him being released this season.
He pondered joining forces with Aaron Rodgers in Green Bay or Patrick Mahomes in Kansas City. He said he was “very, very, very, very” close to going to New England. In the end, he decided to head to LA, and the decision was worthwhile.
Beckham feels he’s matured, and his game has as well. He rapidly acclimated to the Rams, which was critical to their offense, particularly in the postseason.
“It just felt right in my heart and felt right in my gut,” Beckham said of going to LA. “This was the one that was calling me. It’s kind of still a little surreal and mind-blowing, like yeah, we really are here and now the ultimate focus is one game. Just got to finish the job.”
— NFL (@NFL) February 9, 2022
Odell Beckham Jr. Finds Role With Rams
Beckham was a two-time All-Pro in his five-year tenure with the Giants. Following a trade to Cleveland, Beckham saw a steady decline in production.
He accounted for 1,035 yards in 2019, but he tore an ACL the following season against Cincinnati. This year, when he was recuperated, he was rarely involved in the offense. Both Beckham and the Browns agreed it was best for him to leave.
When he recovered from his injury, it allowed Beckham time to recalibrate mentally.
“For me,” he said, “it’s been about the lessons and how do you learn from those lessons to benefit you in the future.”
Despite the other enticing options before him, Beckham said he’s “happy that I made the right choice.”
"It's youngins like you who keep me going."
— Los Angeles Rams (@RamsNFL) February 5, 2022
On his very first play with the Rams, against NFC West rival San Francisco, Matthew Stafford connected with Beckham on a 5-yard pass. In his next game at Green Bay, he caught five passes for 81 yards and a touchdown.
“He’s such a special player, so smart, so talented, so gifted,” Rams head coach Sean McVay said. “And he’s brought such a charisma and presence and really a swag to our team. Love Odell. Really just happy for him.”
— NFL (@NFL) February 11, 2022
Beckham strived to earn the trust of Stafford quickly. Others like Cooper Kupp helped him acclimate to Los Angeles’ offensive system in practice. Stafford noted he’s in constant communication with Beckham, “trying to make this thing come to life.”
Beckham caught five scores in a six-game stretch during the regular season. He wanted to maximize each opportunity he had to help his new team. And in the NFC Championship, he made several critical catches en route to 113 yards on nine receptions, his most as a Ram.
He’s graded fourth among wide receivers in the playoffs by Pro Football Focus.
“It was really impressive from my standpoint what he’s been able to grasp, go out there and execute and play,” Stafford said. “He’s been huge for us in the playoffs. He’s had big games for us in the last couple of games that have really propelled us to the position we’re in today, and we’re going to need more of the same from him.”
Odell Beckham Jr.:
🔥 84.3 grade in the playoffs (4th among WRs)
— PFF (@PFF) February 6, 2022
Super Bowl Opportunity For Odell Beckham Jr.
Beckham recalled watching Super Bowls as a child and telling himself he was going to play in one someday. That ambition has materialized.
He’s attempting to keep himself on a routine, preparing for the clash with the Bengals in as normal of a fashion as possible. But he knows how important this game is.
“There’s no other words to put around it other than it’s a dream come true,” Beckham said. “We all sacrifice just for this moment.”
Beckham has a tattoo that reads, “Pressure, I live for it.” He understands the gravity of what awaits. But the turmoil of his career has led to a chance like this.
“What an opportunity,” Beckham said. “Just want to find a way to take advantage of it and be able to call myself a world champion.”