Odell Beckham Jr., remarkably, is only 22 years old. His aging process is defined by the ordinary ticks of the biological clock and not by the accelerated impact he’s made on the Giants, the NFL and his own brand.
Despite his youth, Beckham is hardly a carefree sort. He mulls things over. And yet, when he thinks back on his breakneck offseason, which followed a breathtaking rookie season, Beckham can home in on a childhood emotion to explain what went down.
“Definitely been fun,’’ Beckham said recently after an organized team activity [OTA] practice. “I say fun because it’s the first time in life I haven’t had to go right from a season to another season or another training. It’s the first actual offseason I’ve ever had in my life. It’s been fun being able to go places you always dreamed of going and meet people you’ve always wanted to meet. Yeah, it’s definitely been fun.’’
Whirlwind does not begin to describe Beckham’s skyrocket ascension, from prospect to first-round pick to stratospheric star. It was not only the now-famous, play-of-the-year, one-handed catch against the Cowboys, although that ignited a spark (and led to a friendship with LeBron James) that spread through the league, and beyond, like flames raging across a drought-weary forest.
Once the Giants’ disappointing 6-10 season came to an end, Beckham took a break but rarely stopped moving. He hosted a “Suits and Sneakers’’ fashion show in Phoenix during Super Bowl week. An avid youth soccer player, he got to meet his idol, David Beckham, during a visit to London. He was invited to attend a runway show by none other than Anna Wintour, the Vogue editor in chief.
“To an extent it definitely is tiring,’’ Beckham said of his busy schedule. “It’s been great to come back here and be in my house again and just feel like you have an actual home.’’
Even if there were only momentary traces of downtime, Beckham needed the respite. A bum hamstring caused him to miss the first four games of his NFL season and he made up for lost time with an epic and record-breaking 12-game surge, cruising to the Offensive Rookie of the Year award after amassing 91 receptions for 1,305 yards and 12 touchdowns. That staggering production, prorated over a full 16-game season, translates to 121 receptions for 1,740 yards and 16 TDs — numbers he may never attain in one season no matter how long he runs routes for the Giants.
The what-does-he-do-for-an-encore pressure awaits him.
“To an extent you feel and understand what people expect of you and of the season,’’ Beckham said. “But that’s what a team’s for. You go through it and you do your job and whatever the stats or whatever else people are looking for, it is going to be what it is. With that being said, I would love to see more wins than a season like I had last year. I’d trade that for anything.’’
Entering year No. 2, all eyes will be on Beckham. Showing off his burgeoning popularity, Beckham will grace the cover of Madden NFL 16 — the youngest player to gain that iconic honor. During this coming season, Beckham will yak it up on ESPN NY 98.7 FM in his first very own weekly radio spot.
“He’s an A-list name, certainly here in New York and certainly around the country,’’ said Mark Lepselter, founder of MAXX Sports & Entertainment, who did Beckham’s deal with ESPN. “He’s extremely high-profile, obviously. We had multiple suitors for this particular area, both major stations here in New York wanted to work with him.’’
Lepselter represents several former athletes, striking media deals for Tiki and Ronde Barber, Rodney Harrison, Bart Scott, Donovan McNabb, Raul Ibanez and former NFL official Mike Pereira. Lepselter was introduced to Beckham by Zeke Sandhu, who handles Beckham’s NFL contract. Lepselter previously worked deals for Beckham with Fox and NBC during the playoffs and Super Bowl.
When the OTAs are done after the June 16-18 mandatory mini-camp, Beckham said he’s planning on going on a vacation, possibly hitting the seas for a cruise with his LSU buddies Jarvis Landry (now with the Dolphins) and Jeremy Hill (Bengals).
“Like a little three-day cruise, put your phones down, just be able to enjoy some time away from everything,’’ Beckham said. “Reset your mind, your focus, all of that.’’
Paul Schwartz | New York Post | May 31, 2015