The untold truth of Odell Beckham Jr.
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The NFL’s buttoned-up ways have earned it the nickname: the No Fun League. However, one player who has brought “fun” back into the league is Odell Beckham Jr. The Cleveland Browns superstar wide receiver, who not only shatters league records, but does it in record time, is a standout on the field and off it. Whether he’s making SportsCenter highlights with incredible one-handed grabs, busting out hip hop dance moves, or topping social media timelines with eye-popping snapshots, the New Orleans-native knows how to have a good time.
Thus, it’s no surprise that a flamboyant personality like Beckham would receive his fair share of criticism in a sports league with a traditionally conservative fanbase, according to Reuters. Although he’s one of the NFL’s most marketable faces, he’s also been cast as a diva, who comes with his fair share of baggage, but more on that later.
To get the full lowdown on this colorful star, let’s look at the tape. Here is the untold truth of Odell Beckham Jr.
A mindblowing one-handed grab put Odell Beckham Jr. on the map
Odell Beckham Jr. was a relatively-unknown New York Giants rookie receiver in 2014 when he made an electrifying one-handed catch against the Dallas Cowboys that not only broke the internet but launched him into superstardom. “It’s bittersweet because I think my career is much more than one catch,” recalled Beckham to ESPN about the life-changing reception. “But it was a very iconic moment and just a prolific moment in my career. I don’t mind getting tagged on Instagram and seeing a bunch of nice catches. It gives me motivation to do something crazier.”
In 2015, OBJ topped the gravity-defying, Matrix-like grab by entering the Guinness World Records book. According to ESPN, the superstar wideout enlisted New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees to set the world record for “most one-handed catches in a minute” with a jaw-dropping 33 aerial connections in 60 seconds. Brees, a future Hall of Famer, told ESPN that the achievement was “unreal” and called his partner a “special talent.”
One year later, Beckham’s world record was broken by Antonio Brown (40 catches), and then again in 2019 by his best friend, LSU and Cleveland Browns teammate Jarvis Landry (48 catches). That record probably won’t stand if OBJ has anything to say about it. “The type of person I am, I love breaking records, no matter what it is,” Beckham told ESPN in 2015. “I look forward to breaking and going above and beyond what somebody else has done.”
Odell Beckham Jr. is an All-Pro dancing machine
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Odell Beckham Jr.’s highlight reel isn’t just filled with superhuman one-handed catches. The 2014 Offensive Rookie of the Year is a dancing machine whose fancy footwork goes back to his first NFL touchdown reception during his rookie year when he “whipped” out a trademark hip hop dance for his fans. “I told them, I said if I get in there, I was going to do it for you,” Beckham told NJ.com after scoring the game-winning touchdown over the Atlanta Falcons in 2014. “They came up to see this game, so what a wonderful moment to share it with them as well.”
In 2016, the star wideout was even recognized by the Radio City Rockettes for his dance moves. The world famous dance troupe named Beckham their “Dancer of the Week” after he scored a Monday Night Football touchdown against the Cincinnati Bengals and busted out a killer performance of Michael Jackson’s Thriller that would “make the King of Pop proud!” Beckham’s moves go beyond the football field such as when he celebrated gaining 11 million Instagram followers with a hot, shirtless, poolside prance. In an interview with GQ, the Baton Rouge native explained that dancing is part of who he is. “We jig, we bounce dance, New Orleans dance, all that,” explained Beckham. “It’s really just a way of expressing yourself.”
David Beckham isn’t related to Odell Beckham Jr., but they are family
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In another time and place, Odell Beckham Jr. could have been a futbol star. OBJ was once a promising soccer prospect whose talents could have helped the U.S. national team compete in World Cups, according to his former youth soccer. “When I watch Odell play (American) football, he changes routes and he changes speeds,” Colin Rocke, a former pro indoor player turned coach, told NFL.com.” His first couple steps are so quick out of his break that you’re almost five steps behind him when it happens. If he stuck with the game, he’d be an elite soccer player.”
The NFL star’s soccer past is yet another link to his sports hero, David Beckham. The two “extra” superstars sport trend-setting coifs, sex symbol looks, and a flair for the dramatic both on and off the field. OBJ virtually gushed when running into the international soccer star. “I got to meet one of my childhood idols since I could ever remember, and a guy who I watched probably since I was 4 or 5 years old, David Beckham,” revealed the NFL star receiver in a press interview (via ABC News). “It was a pretty surreal moment for me, meeting a guy who I’ve clowned about being a relative of all this time.” According to OBJ, the man-crushing went both ways as “Becks” told him that he needed to “keep the legacy going” by “[keeping] up the family name.”
Odell Beckham Jr.: NFL star or Instagram influencer?
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The reigning NFL style king is a record-breaker on the field and a trend-setter off it. GQ deemed Odell Beckham Jr.’s signature bleach-blonde curls a “national treasure,” while Nike bestowed a rare honor on a football player (joining the rarified NFL air of Bo Jackson, Deion Sanders, Randy Moss) by naming a shoe after him: The Nike SF Air Force 1 Mid OBJ is a taxi-colored sneaker that the iconic footwear brand labels “as bodacious and eye catching as the receiver himself.”
CNN hailed Beckham as “the style icon the NFL needs,” calling him the embodiment of “youth culture” that offers a jolt of “fresh air into the often-stuffy sport.” Whether Beckham is making fashion runway-like stadium entrances in $4 K pastel, double-breasted suits or pulling off a sleeveless tuxedo kilt at the Met Gala, the soft-spoken superstar seems to make his statements through his fashion. “There’s a passion there that makes getting dressed come naturally for him,” GQ style features writer Cam Wolf told CNN. “I don’t think it’s forced. He’s always dressed sort of wackily.”
Social media fashionista Jordan Page of the @veryadvanced Instagram account sees OBJ as an authentic brand that represents the confident and assertive “Look at Me” generation. “You see him, and you see a young man,” the vintage clothing enthusiast, stylist, brand strategist told CNN. “If he weren’t in the NFL, that’s what he’d be doing. He’d probably be an Instagram influencer doing the same exact thing.”
The star receiver is also a giver
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Odell Beckham Jr. has made millions receiving, but he also knows the value in giving. The superstar wideout has worked with a variety of charities, most notably when he set the internet on fire with his custom, Simpson’s-inspired “Make-A-Wish” cleats for the NFL’s “My Cleats, My Clause” campaign. According to ESPN, Beckham is a Make-A-Wish Foundation giant, who made a special connection with Jayro Ponce, 9, who was battling a “rare form of cancer” in 2017. According to the Amarillo Globe News, the precocious boy had became a Giants fan after seeing Beckham’s famous 2014 “circus catch” against his hometown Cowboys. “He made it with three fingers,” Ponce told his hometown newspaper. Shortly after getting word from a New York Giants’ teammate (Weston Richburg) that the boy’s dream was to meet his hero, Beckham rushed out to Texas where the boy was receiving treatment at the Ronald McDonald House in Amarillo. The Ponce family’s supporters thanked Beckham on Facebook for the special memory, “We were blessed to spend time with this amazing soul and his friend! There’s no words for this experience.”
Unfortunately, OBJ’s #1 fan lost his battle with cancer later that year, which a “crushed” Beckham acknowledged in a heartfelt Instagram tribute to his “lil bro,” whom he admired for his courageous fight. The mercurial superstar wasn’t afraid to show his sensitive side, ending the public post with a private memory of their special day spent together with #Sept10Milkshakes.
Odell Beckham Jr. hit the genetic jackpot
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Odell Beckham Jr. has been blessed with physical gifts for which he can thank his parents. Although the original Odell Beckham paved the way for his son at LSU as the starting running back on the 1992 Tigers team, the same year Junior was born, he never lived up to the promise of his high school days that were highlighted in an ESPN 30 for 30 documentary. Arguably, OBJ Sr’s biggest claim to fame has been an arrest for gun and marijuana charges in 2017.
The career of Heather Van Norman, OBJ’s mom, is far more distinguished. The Star Tribune called her “the most dominant high school track star in Minnesota history.” She went onto earn six All-American honors at LSU, and was training for the 1992 Olympic Trials when she found out she was pregnant with the future NFL star. “I thought ‘What am I going to do?'” Van Norman recalled to Fox Sports. “But it was life changing — a blessing from God. It turned my life around. I stopped just getting by. Suddenly my baby lit a fire of determination under me.” Van Norman, a track and field coach at Nicholls State, as of this writing, continued her training, which the elder Beckham believes gave his son a leg up on his athletic development. “She ran up until she was about 6-months pregnant,” Beckham Sr. revealed to Fox Sports. “That probably gave him that strength, ability, speed that serves him so well now.”
Those gay rumors don’t bother Odell Beckham Jr. at all
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Odell Beckham Jr.’s flamboyant style on-and-off the gridiron have made him a target of gay rumors from fans, media, and opponents. The New York Post reported that Beckham’s sexuality was questioned in a 2015 game by the Carolina Panthers, who taunted him with homophobic slurs and threatened him with a bat. Although Beckham’s football nemesis, Panthers’ Josh Norman, denied taunting his bitter rival to Outsports, the New York Post quoted the outspoken cornerback as calling Beckham a prancing “ballerina.”
Ironically, the elusive wide receiver is fine with being called gay. In fact, OBJ runs with it. “It was almost more funny to me,” Beckham told GQ. “I almost messed with them even more. It’s like when someone gives me an ultimatum, I’m usually always going to go to the opposite way of what you want me to go. So when they would say that, I would almost mess with them even more. I have no problem with anyone’s sexual orientation.”
Beckham explained further that he feels “love is love,” and that there’s a specific reason the public doesn’t see him around women much. “I don’t want you in my personal life,” he told the outlet, adding, “I always try to keep my personal life my personal life. I feel like I don’t owe that to anybody.”