To whom much is given, the old proverb goes, much is expected. And now for Odell Beckham Jr., there certainly will be high expectations that extend off the football field.
The New York Giants made Beckham the highest paid wide receiver in NFL history, a five-year contract for $95 million that puts the guaranteed money in the ballpark of $65 million. It is a boatload of money for a player who is hands-down the most talented wide receiver in the league.
And for Beckham, already three times a Pro Bowl selection in his first four years in the league, the expectation is not only for him to continue being a dominant playmaker. Now the star must be more than his talents.
He must now, with all $95 million of himself, be a leader.
“Do you see this polo? I’m growing up,” Beckham said on Tuesday, joking about his mature wardrobe.
“Honestly, it just was something that, I won’t say proud of anything that’s ever happened, but I’m able to take everything that’s happened for me and make myself into a man and learn from those mistakes and be able to look myself in the mirror and have to deal with those things. It wasn’t the best thing to happen to me to date, but what I got to learn and take and grow from, was everything that I needed in my life and now I’m able to take that and keep going forward and just be the best me that I can be.”
The list of Beckham’s antics off the field is long and doesn’t bear repeating. But the Giants now will demand more from their sizable investment.
They will demand that Beckham does more than star, more than simply be the game’s most outstanding wide receiver. He now must be an example to his teammates, a player who checks-in to every offseason workout and one who doesn’t check-out when a Josh Norman attempts to break him physically or mentally.
Instead, Beckham has to be cool as the cash that will now line his pockets. He must be the player that the Giants can depend on for clutch catches and also for locker room leadership.
Perhaps this is the maturing of Beckham, who importantly got the deal done prior to the season. He didn’t hold out as many had feared.
Instead, in the final year of his contract and coming off a season-ending ankle injury in 2017, Beckham ground through training camp and showed up with a strong, positive attitude.
He talked on Tuesday, not about the contract as much as he did about championships. The message from Giants leadership clearly got through to Beckham, who now is a building block of this rebuild as well as this franchise’s future.
“I don’t know if it puts any extra that I haven’t already put on myself,” Beckham said. “Coming in early in training camp, being able to be here and knowing where I’m at in life, and knowing that I do need to be a leader, and there are guys that are watching me and I need to be there on days that I need to be bringing energy somewhere else. I don’t know if it’s any extra responsibility that I didn’t already put on myself going into this year, year five, being a vet. I couldn’t say it was any extra, but I know that my goals are if not the same, higher. I just want to be able to be my very, very best.”