Last summer, Jeremy Hill and Odell Beckham, Jr. shared the same practice fields for the first time since the pair left LSU following the 2013 college season. Beckham, Jr. was a first-round pick of the New York Giants, and Hill a second-round pick by the Cincinnati Bengals in 2014, and they had a reunion of sorts when the two teams shared training-camp dates prior to a preseason game at Paul Brown Stadium.
On Monday night, the longtime friends will stand on opposite sidelines for the first time in a regular-season game.
It’s been an interesting road for the pair. In their two and a half years in the NFL, Beckham, Jr. has ridden the roller coaster of fame, celebrated at one turn and then having to stomach the inevitable backlash for it at the next.
While he has not graced the cover of a video game, appeared in TV shows or been linked romantically with singers, Hill has endured his ups and downs as well. After bursting on the scene over the final nine games of 2014, he’s been benched for fumbling and hailed and criticized for post-touchdown celebrations.
It’s a difference Hill can appreciate.
“Everything he’s gone through, I would never want that to be on my plate every week,” the running back said. “But he’s done such a good job dealing with all those things, the media attention. Watching the Giants game is watching Odell play because the camera is on him non-stop. He does a good job dealing with it, and I’m proud of him for that.”
Since entering the league, both have been among the most productive players at their positions. Beckham, Jr. is a two-time Pro Bowler who already has 231 career catches and 30 touchdowns. Hill is on pace for his second, 1,000-yard season and has rushed for 25 touchdowns (he has one additional receiving score).
Despite the successes, and some pratfalls, the pair remain close friends. If anything, it all has added something special to the relationship.
“Yeah, definitely,” Hill said. “You can’t overlook that. When I met him I think he was 160 pounds and I was like, 'This guy definitely must be a friend of someone, he’s not a player.' But he continued to surprise people from the moment I met him. I think for us, we don’t look over that. It’s definitely been our goal - our dream goal - ever since we started playing football for it to come true and to play at a high level at this level is definitely something you can’t overlook.”
Jim Owczarski | cincinnati.com | November 10, 2016