CLEVELAND — Cleveland Browns wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. has been the subject of rumors surrounding his “unhappiness” in Cleveland, but as he’s said before and said again on Thursday, Beckham is the happiest he’s been in the NFL as he dons orange and brown each week.
Jarvis Landry, Beckham’s longtime friend and teammate, said on Thursday that he thinks the last time he saw Beckham so content, healthy and focused was when they played together at LSU.
“Probably college. Last year, he was dealing with a major injury that obviously he had to have surgery, and coming into a new system, a new team and all of these things, I think that that weighs on you and weighs on anybody. He has handled it well,” Landry said. “This year, I think his body has kind of calmed his mind down from all the things that he had going on that he can go out there and perform at a high level each and every time he takes the field.”
Beckham agreed with the sentiment and said he’s in a good spot here in Cleveland.
“I probably agree with that. Coming from college into the league, it is just a completely different life. I feel like college was an intro, and this is like right before the social media era and all that stuff,” Beckham said. “It is just a different day and age now, and I think that this is probably one of the best spots I have been in.”
Beckham’s happiness in Cleveland stems from many factors, from playing with his best friend to now finally playing healthy and his relationship with head coach Kevin Stefanski.
“Just being able to understand the people that you are here giving your day to, it goes a long way. There is a great line of communication there. I feel like it is always an open door,” Beckham said. “We can say things and there are never any hard feelings because we know where each other’s heart is at, and we just want to work, and we want to be great. I would definitely say that is a great relationship and just look forward to keeping that going.”
Last season, Beckham was the subject of national sports headlines insisting that he was unhappy in Cleveland, including a segment by professional Cleveland critic/troll Colin Cowherd, which was called out by Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield.
Although Beckham would continuously be forced to reiterate he wanted to be in Cleveland, he could not escape the negative story lines and trade rumors.
It didn’t help that Beckham was playing through a sports hernia last season and was working under a chaotic offense led (if you can call it that) by former head coach Freddie Kitchens.
Now, coming off surgery to repair the hernia, Beckham said his body feels much better this season and is a contributing factor to his success through the first four games.
“I am definitely stronger, faster this year than I was last year. I am just all-around healthier,” Beckham said.
During Sunday’s win over the Cowboys, Stefanski used Beckham in multiple facets of the offense, allowing him to score three touchdowns—one on a 50-yard end-around play and another on a trick play that found Landry at quarterback for the end zone connection. Beckham said that he hopes to be able to contribute in multiple ways moving forward.
“Obviously, that is something that I would love to continue to do. That is something that for me was always in the game plan. It is just the way that I played football. Freshman year in college, run blocking, catching passes, and punt and kick return. I just love football,” Beckham said. “Any way that I can help this team win, that is what I am here to do.”
When asked if Sunday’s game was a moment comparable to the Jay-Z “PSA” lyrics, “Allow me to reintroduce myself,” Beckham said he’s been waiting to show the world what he’s known he’s been capable of.
“No, for me, I have just been waiting. I have just been waiting. I know what I am capable of doing any given time I am on the field, but I think I did a jump on one of the coaches using that exact line just in case for the ones that are out there that love to hate so. Again, that is something I never really worry about,” Beckham said. “I know what I can do. I know what I am capable of. Like I said, just trying to find ways to keep this train rolling.”
While Beckham answered the question humbly, his good friend Landry was there to really drive the point home that Beckham should have never been underestimated to begin with.
“You guys know as well as I do, it should have never been a conversation that he was not an elite player anymore. I do not think I can answer that question. He has always been an elite player,” Landry said.
And Stefanski, who has been able to utilize Beckham in a way that strongly suits his skillset as well as the offensive scheme, knows that Beckham’s athleticism is a rarity.
“You and I can’t do that,” Stefanski said while laughing. “He is a bouncy athlete, and he finds a way to go get footballs. It is very impressive.”
Beckham is happy in Cleveland and after Sunday’s breakout game, Cleveland should be happy to have him here.
Camryn Justice is a digital content producer at News 5 Cleveland. Follow her on Twitter @camijustice.