Professional athletes are viewed differently, though. In addition to the accolades and high praise they get, athletes are scrutinized even more because they are in a high-profile field and make a lot of money. At the tender age of 24, they are considered more mature than the non-athlete because of their profession and income status, even if that isn’t a reasonable expectation or explanation.
Enter New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. About to begin his fourth year in the NFL, the jury is still out on the future of Beckham. When he finally hangs up his cleats, will he be considered one of the all-time greats at his position? Will he be a bust? Will he be a great player but a person with a lot of baggage? Or will he be something else? Basically, will he be like Jerry Rice, who is considered the greatest wideout in NFL history, a diva like Terrell Owens or a bust like the Detroit Lions’ former second overall pick Charles Rogers?
Heck, he is still playing under his rookie contract. One thing is highly certain, however. Beckham will not be Rogers-like. He simply has too much talent.
Beckham has put together some of the best numbers of any player in his first three years in the NFL. He has the most receptions, is the fastest player to reach 4,000 receiving yards and is one of two players to have at least 70 catches, 1,000 yards receiving and 10 touchdowns in three consecutive seasons.
Still, as of now, Beckham is more on a path similar to Owens than Rice. No one questioned Owens’ ability. He worked his way to becoming a star with the San Francisco 49ers, then shined everywhere else he went — Dallas, Philadelphia, Cincinnati, Buffalo. He was a six-time Pro Bowler and a five-time All-Pro. After 219 games, 15,934 receiving yards and 153 touchdowns, Owens is on the cusp of being in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
PITTSBURGH, PA - DECEMBER 04: New York Giants Wide Receiver Odell Beckham Jr. (13) points to player during the NFL Football game between the New York Giants and the Pittsburgh Steelers on December 4, 2016, at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, PA.
The only likely reason he isn’t in the Hall of Fame now is because of his attitude. His stays with most of the teams in his 15 years always ended badly. He hasn’t advanced past the final 15 voting in his two Hall of Fame attempts. His off-the-field drama is still overshadowing his on-the-field legacy.
But there’s more. Whether it’s not attending (voluntary) offseason workouts or his quarterback’s personal camp, the style of his hair down to the clothes he wears, Beckham does things his way.
And that’s OK for now. Again, he’s only 24 and there’s plenty of time for him to grow and mature, something he has acknowledged he tried to do this offseason. Like most young people, there will be missteps during this process. That doesn’t indicate the book is completed.
Right now, Beckham is on pace to become one of the greatest receivers in the history of the game. Whether he continues on this pace long enough to surpass the greats or gets derailed by his outside-the-lines drama remains to be seen.
Watching his journey, however, won’t be boring.
Before you know it, the 2017 season will start. Without fans, there is no football. Be sure to rep exclusive OBJ swag from OBJ's official online store!