For better or worse, he’s always in the news.
If you are a football fan or even familiar with pop culture, Odell Beckham Jr. is undoubtedly a familiar name.
On the field, he’s an ultra-talented wide receiver for the New York Giants, who hash a flair for the dramatic with both his astounding catches and his in-game antics.
Away from the NFL, he’s recognized for his bleach-blonde hair, and his actions always receive plenty of attention on social media, especially of late.
On the heels of defeating Washington in the regular-season finale Sunday, Beckham and a group of teammates traveled to Miami, where they partied with Justin Bieber among others.
The excursion is drawing lots of criticism from those who believe the players’ focus should be on preparing for the Giants’ first playoff game since 2011 on Sunday at Green Bay.
And it’s probably true.
With so much on the line, fans, coaches and even some teammates would probably prefer Beckham, who is the league’s only receiver with at least 100 catches, 1,300 yards and 10 touchdowns this season, avoid late nights at the nightclub until the offseason, but it is not our decision.
Beckham didn’t break any rules by using his day off to live it up in Miami, and he has the right, along with the salary, to spend his free time any way he wants.
My real problem with the recent event is it overshadows Beckham’s more impactful actions.
A Christmas-morning video went viral after a young boy exploded with joy upon discovering a Beckham jersey inside one his packages. After witnessing the outburst, Beckham shared the video, promising to sign the gift.
Prior to playing the Redskins, Beckham delivered, meeting with the boy on the sideline to share small talk and an autograph.
Little has been made of the interaction, though, as the media chooses to sensationalize a hot-button topic.
Was it the brightest decision to squeeze in an all-nighter while a trip to dreaded Lambeau Field during the playoffs looms?
Probably not, but Beckham is just 24 years old.
Behavior like that is perfectly common for someone his age. In fact, I would have most likely made a similar decision if I was a multimillionaire right out of college.
Years later, however, I urge otherwise, but that’s how perceptions change over time. In 10 years, Beckham will probably approach the same scenario much differently.
Regardless, I wish there was as much attention paid to his small act of kindness as there is to his jaunt to South Florida.
Say what you will about Beckham, but he obviously has a heart, and the few moments he spent talking with a young, diehard fan will leave an impact far greater than any playoff victory.
All athletes have a responsibility to their team, but more importantly, as larger-than-life superstars, they have a responsibility to society in general, and I’m glad to see Beckham is doing his part to give back.
Contact Clay Whittington at firstname.lastname@example.org