It’s quite reasonable for people to have mixed thoughts on something that is both dangerous and unknown, and the attempt to conduct a football season through a pandemic would qualify as both. That’s why there is no contradiction between what Cleveland Browns wide receiver Odell Beckham, Jr. recently said and the fact that he has chosen not to opt out of playing in 2020.
In an article published yesterday in the Wall Street Journal, from an interview conducted weeks ago, the star wide receiver was quoted as saying that, “with everything that’s going on, it doesn’t make sense why we’re trying” to have a season this year.
“We’re not ready for football season. So why are we trying to push forward? It’s obviously for their money”, he added. “And that bothers me because there’s always been this — and I hate saying it like that — but the owners’ [attitude is], ‘oh we own you guys’, and just kind of that unfairness going on that they don’t see us as human. I just feel like the season shouldn’t happen and I’m prepared for it to not happen and I wouldn’t mind not having it”.
These are not the first remarks of this kind that Beckham has made with regard to the relationship between players and owners, and he is certainly not the first player who has ever done so, either. Especially with the fact that Collective Bargaining Agreement negotiations, and then health and safety protocol negotiations, happened to coincide in the same year as a pandemic, no doubt there are many players questioning aspects of this dynamic.
But as ESPN reports, in spite of his reservations, Beckham has every intention of playing during the 2020 season. Should he have chosen otherwise, he would not be the only significant name to do so. Among dozens of other names, for example, the New York Jets’ C.J. Mosley has chosen not to play this season.
“With everything going on, what does that say about our country” that football is so important, he questioned during the aforementioned interview, and I think it is a fair question to ask ourselves. I’ve written about it myself, and have come out in favor of the notion that it has value in even the most troubling of times, but nevertheless, it is a question worth asking, and exploring.
The Browns have had two players to date choose to opt out for the 2020 season, and have placed numerous players on the reserve/Covid-19 list, including running back Dontrell Hilliard, as well as their punter, who was recently activated.
Cleveland is counting on Beckham to be a major weapon for their offense this season and into the future after acquiring him via trade last March in exchange for first- and third-round picks and a starting safety, who was a former first-round pick still on his rookie contract.