Odell Beckham Jr. is good for business in the media. There is an insatiable appetite for almost everything he says or does. Most outlets will find ways to capitalize, which took an odd turn for the Super Bowl.
Worn by NBC this year, Beckham was part of their show, something that had been done in every round of the playoffs in games featuring the Los Angeles Rams, regardless of which network was airing the game. NBC’s broadcast stand of Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth both explained how catcher Odell Beckham Jr. was acquired by the Rams after being released by the Cleveland Browns.
Each painted Beckham as a victim. Collinsworth went so far as to say the Browns threw Beckham to the sidewalk, leaving him nowhere to go. Believing in him against all odds, Beckham proved them wrong, helping the Rams get to the Super Bowl they would win.
The only problem is that’s not what happened. In fact, the story they told was so far from the truth that Cleveland fans who were supporting Beckham even to win that game were struck by what they were hearing.
Beckham asked to be traded at the start of the season. The Browns wouldn’t and probably couldn’t because his $14.5 million salary was fully guaranteed following the ACL tear he suffered in 2020. He asked again before the date trade limit, again he said no.
On the day of the trade deadline, a video was posted on the social media accounts of his father, Odell Beckham Sr., destroying both quarterback Baker Mayfield and head coach Kevin Stefanski, blaming them. for Beckham’s lack of impact.
Although Beckham maintains he had nothing to do with the video, he would not return phone calls from teammates or the head coach for the next 24 hours. Most of everything from that time until his release happened between Beckham’s agent and the team’s general manager, Andrew Berry.
Rather than simply shutting down Beckham for the remainder of the year, the Browns negotiated a restructured contract that slightly reduced their salary burden by giving them savings on the salary cap while eliminating the remaining two years of Beckham’s contract. This would ensure that if a team claimed Beckham on waivers, he would be a free agent after the season, allowing him to determine his own fate.
Beckham cleared the waivers and signed with the Rams, still positioning himself for free agency. Before the Super Bowl, Beckham launched a campaign that it was the rebirth of his greatness, a second act.
If the Super Bowl broadcast had simply acknowledged that Beckham wanted to leave Cleveland and that actions had taken place that greased the slippages to ensure that would happen, there were plenty of people who were more than happy to say so. a hero in these circumstances.
All of this begs the question, why? Why didn’t he just acknowledge that Beckham wanted out?
If you tap on it, the answer will probably be accused of getting bad information. Possible, but it wasn’t a hard story to research and two weeks of prep was enough to get it right. The fact that each of them took the time to provide an inaccurate account of what happened did not seem accidental.
They weren’t alone either. ESPN also participated in this bizarre reinvention. Adam Schefter, in a now-deleted tweet, posted the same photo with the tagline, “To everyone who said this couldn’t be done:”
No one was more supportive of Beckham than Jarvis Landry, who even hopped on his media conference call during Super Bowl week to cheer him on. Calvin Johnson hasn’t played since 2015, was previously selected for induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
So why did two major NFL broadcast partners set out to write a new script for this story, which rings about as true as the movie? Rudi?
Considering the amount of star power attached to Beckham, it seems the NFL didn’t want to give a break to the idea that Beckham engineered the outcome he wanted, despite a suggestion from Von Miller that’s exactly what that happened.
The NFL has no interest in giving players more power than absolutely necessary and will not tolerate players taking control. They view the NBA, a league where superstar players are often able to dictate the teams they play for and league politics as a cautionary tale.
Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick was not blackballed for what he said. Rather, he did. Kaepernick represented what could happen if a player couldn’t be controlled by the league and 32 billionaires had no interest in respecting him. They took away his platform by taking away his job. Kaepernick, along with former teammate Eric Reid, sued the league for collusion, a case that would be settled out of court.
Beckham still has too much juice in the NFL, so it seemed easier to come up with a narrative that benefits Beckham while serving the league’s needs. Beckham, his side probably didn’t participate in that, but they’re not going to dispute that version of events either. When the Browns are questioned at one point, they simply say they have no interest in revisiting the issue as part of team policy, which allows the issue to go away cleanly.
There may be a better explanation for what happened. I’m all ears. The Super Bowl didn’t need help selling and neither did Odell Beckham Jr., so why was there an attempt to enlighten the public about what happened in Cleveland?