October 11, 2015, Queens, NY Maybe it’s the blonde flat top. Or maybe it’s the commercials. Or maybe it’s the NFL Madden Cover. Or maybe it’s the “Won-Handed” catch. Or maybe it’s the media attention. Or maybe it’s the smack talk. Or maybe it’s the punches thrown. Or maybe it’s a superlative start to a young career.
Some are neutral claiming he will Boom or Bust; some are forecasting Gloom and Doom; and others are envisioning Boom and Bloom for the charismatic, One-hand Wonder, Odell Beckham Jr.
Whatever it is, Odell Beckham Jr. is one of the most loathed players in the NFL. Last year in his rookie season, the “cocky” or “confident” (choose your adjective) Beckham had 91 receptions for 1,305 yards, and scored 12 touchdowns. This year, while his productivity has declined, he has 24 receptions for 301 yards, and scored 2 touchdowns. If he plays a full season at his current rate of productivity, he’ll have close to 100 receptions and over 1,200 receiving yards. Not bad for a second-year player who is doubled- and sometimes tripled-teamed.
Beckham Jr.’s talent is immense. The challenge for him is more in the line of his mental toughness. He must focus on football first and celebrity second. He must ignore the naysaying and jealousy from players in the league, particularly opposing cornerbacks and safetys. He must ignore the chatter of rabid fans who pick him for their fantasy football leagues. He must ignore the pundits who are already fitting him for a bust and yellow jacket. He must ignore the critics who are quick to characterize him as a one-hit-wonder.
Beckham Jr.’s path to success is simple. Be the same player, or better said, same “person” you were before “the catch.” Let your belief, confidence, and motivation come from within, and let your play do the talking.
Professor Clifford Benton can be reached at @cliffordbenton.