Let me set the scene. It is Week 6 of the 2016 NFL season. The New York Giants are squaring off against the Baltimore Ravens in East Rutherford, New Jersey. It is the fourth quarter, Giants are down 20-23, the team sits at their own 34-yard line and it’s fourth and one.
The ball is hiked. Quarterback Eli Manning throws the ball to wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr., who then proceeds to run 66 yards for the game-winning touchdown. He then rips off his helmet and runs down the sideline while the cameras follow him. Beckham set a career best with 222-yards receiving for the game.
The next day, his coach and quarterback call him a distraction. Pundits say he can’t control his emotions. Bloggers say he’s overrated. Sunday “experts” hate him. In a sport like football that values raw emotion and individual statistics, doesn’t that seem odd? It should. I’ll explain why Odell Beckham Jr. has become so loathed in the recent months, and why he shouldn’t be.
For those who don’t know, Odell Beckham Jr. is the wide receiver for the New York Giants. If you look him up on Google he is the two-finger catching, blonde-haired having, net-fighting so-called troublemaker the sports world loves to focus on. With that exposure, he is dissected and analyzed whenever he is brought up. He appears on commercials and ads everywhere. From the get-go, he is oversaturated. Naturally, people will become tired of seeing his face due the exposure he gets. Is that such a bad thing? To me, no.
He brings exposure to the game and that’s a good thing. Love him or hate him, people will tune in to watch him perform. He brings that special something to the table that makes him a must-watch and for the NFL that is exactly what it needs. And for the fans, he adds a narrative that games sometimes need; a villain or hero dynamic that is exciting to watch. He is able to create emotions for people watching a game. Speaking of emotion, since when is that a bad thing in football?
If you were able to go on any podcast, blog or even sports network I bet you’ll hear the NFL stands for the No Fun League or they don’t let the players be themselves anymore. But yet, Beckham is labeled as a distraction. When Ray Lewis roared like a lion whenever he made a tackle, he was labeled as fiery. Whenever Tom Brady sneaks the ball in for a touchdown and yells and jumps about like a caveman, he is labeled as a leader.
People complain that the players act like robots who say the same things over and over again. But when someone like Beckham Jr. acts out, he is a problem. That is a glaring inconsistency. Don’t people want guys like Beckham Jr. to make the game more entertaining? As long as he is backing up his play on the field, I have no problem with his actions on, and off of it.
What it comes down to is the Terrell Owens factor. In other words, he fits into the stereotype of the egotistical wide receiver. Last time I checked, guys like Beckham, Owens and Dez Bryant all had the numbers, all were leaders and all are remembered. Fast forward many years later and tell me who you’ll remember more: Odell Beckham Jr. or Chad Johnson.
Daniel is a senior journalism major. You can find all of Daniel’s columns at  TNH’s website, tnhdigital.com. Daniel is a guest on the weekly sports radio show “Wildchats,” on 91.3 FM WUNH Durham. Follow Dan on Twitter  @DanielEliasNH.

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