To say this season turned out much better than Odell Beckham Jr. thought would be an understatement.
The three-time Pro Bowl wide receiver started 2021 on the injured list with the Cleveland Browns. He tore his ACL in October 2020, ending that season after just seven games. He underwent surgery in November and was expected to be ready for the start of the 2021 season.
But he wasn’t. He missed the first two games, and some started to wonder if he’d ever be the same. After going over 1,300 yards and 10 touchdowns in each of his first three seasons in the NFL with the New York Giants — who selected him 12th overall in the 2014 draft — he missed 12 games in 2017 with a fractured ankle and four games in 2018 with a quad injury.
Beckham was then traded to the Browns in 2019, and he stayed healthy, playing in all 16 games and topping 1,000 yards for the fifth time. But then came the 2020 injury, which bled into the 2021 season. He made his season debut in Week 3, but by November, he and the team agreed to part ways.
He signed as a free agent with the Los Angeles Rams a week later. Nearly three months later, he’s preparing for his first Super Bowl. The Rams will take on the Cincinnati Bengals in Super Bowl LVI on Sunday in the Rams’ home stadium (6:30 p.m. ET).
"It's youngins like you who keep me going."
— Los Angeles Rams (@RamsNFL) February 5, 2022
Beckham is no longer the best receiver on his team; that would be Cooper Kupp. But he doesn’t care. He just wants to win the ultimate prize in football.
The 29-year-old has played well since joining the Rams, catching 27 passes for 305 yards and five touchdowns in eight regular-season games, then adding 19 catches for 236 yards and one touchdown in the playoffs. His first 100-yard receiving day came in the NFC championship game (nine catches, 113 yards).
In reflecting on his season when speaking to the media on Monday, Beckham said he never could have imagined being on the Rams this year after starting in Cleveland. He gave credit to God for where he’s at.
“I just don’t see how any of this is possible without God,” he said. “I’m just excited. I’m just exited for the opportunity.”
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Beckham often talks about his faith in God on social media, and he often referenced his faith during his media session on Monday. When asked what he’s learned the most about himself this season, he mentioned resilience and also faith.
“Another thing I learned about myself is my faith. I know none of this would be possible without God. That’s why I think I’m in a place where energy has been lifted off of my shoulders and I just give it all to Him, because without Him I wouldn’t be here at all,” he said. “I’m just truly blessed and I’m so thankful that He’s put me here in this position to be able to share my testimony. Hopefully it can inspire others who go through a rough time. And it doesn’t have to be just football, it can be life, or their job or their situation. Whatever it is, just to know, to keep going.”
Beckham also talked about a shift recently in the public narrative about him. He was fined by the NFL numerous times when he was the Giants, and in 2020 a warrant was issued for his arrest in New Orleans after he appeared to swat a security guard at the Superdome after his alma mater, LSU, won college football’s national championship. The warrant was later recalled.
“I’ve definitely watched, heard and witnessed it all change, man. It’s just a testimony to staying down, staying humble, staying in your faith. Here I am with an opportunity to reach one of the goals in my life that I’ve always wanted to reach,” he said Monday.
Beckham, Kupp and the high-powered Rams offense are 4.5-point favorites to win on Sunday. But while Beckham may be in awe of the situation he’s in, he’s not taking it for granted.
“It is a great feeling to be here at this moment, and like I’ve said all along, I’m just truly blessed and thankful for this opportunity,” he said. “But the job’s definitely not finished.”
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