One of the biggest moves made in the NFL this offseason involved one of its biggest personalities with All-Pro former New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham, Jr. being shipped off to the Cleveland Browns. While the trade has been lauded with respect to what the Browns managed to accomplish for their team, the player himself has been, now and in the past, often spoken of in less glowing terms.
This was a topic that he addressed recently in an interview published by GQ magazine. He was asked if there is any validity to the criticism that he receives regarding his being a teammate, and he provided a length answer in response.
One of the things he was most criticized for since the trade went down was the fact that he chose not to show up for OTAs. Even his new head coach, Freddie Kitchens, started to get more testy at the end of OTAs after being repeatedly asked about when he would show up and what he was missing. This was his response to that criticism:
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.
Now, it’s not entirely accurate, from what I understand, for him to say that they don’t get paid for OTAs at all, though it is relatively little, I believe roughly $1000 per week give or take depending on the player’s veteran status.
But he obviously has a point that a lot of players have made when they or others get criticized for not showing up to something that is voluntary: either make it mandatory, or don’t complain when people don’t volunteer.
Players do have lives, and sometimes those lives actually consist of individual plans pertaining to their self-improvement at their craft, which includes paying professionals out of pocket at their own expense if they feel it best serves their ability to contribute.
While some of the criticism Beckham has gotten over the years has been justified, I do think much of it goes to a far more extreme place than it needs to be, and I also think that feeds back into how he responds to it, producing a bit of a feedback loop.