Odell Beckham Jr. said Saturday at his football camp for kids at Kean University in Union, N.J., that he has never “been as ready as I am now” for a season as he is for the upcoming Giants’ 2017 campaign.
And he was wearing simple black Nike shoes on the field this time, not the anti-media spikes he practiced in last Tuesday at minicamp, so presumably this was a quote Beckham had no problem sharing with the public.
“I think this might be the most in my lifetime,” Beckham, 24, said of his comprehensive level of preparation for his fourth NFL season. “Mentally, physically, spiritually, everything — I don’t think I’ve ever been as ready as I am now.”
Confident anticipation from Beckham is noteworthy because his contract came up as an issue related to his absence from OTAs this offseason, and while Beckham indicated at minicamp that a holdout isn’t his style, it’s still reassuring to hear him forecast participating and thriving as a Giant come the fall.
Beckham showed a different, softer side on Saturday, too, though, which is important that Giants fans see.
While timing races among campers, Beckham at the end of one race didn’t congratulate the winner; he found the smallest kid who had fallen and bumped his elbow midway through. Beckham approached the young man, patted him on the head and showed him he had his back.
It was a unrehearsed and human moment, a second-nature reaction to do the right thing.
Beckham has defined himself at times with regrettable actions and controversial decisions. But a gesture like Saturday’s support for that young camper was proof of another side of Beckham’s nature, the side that an in-game war with Josh Norman doesn’t really shed much light on.
“It’s a responsibility,” Beckham said of the example he must set. “I remember when I was young and I looked up to somebody, little do we know the things we do have a huge impact on them. So you’ve always got to be mindful of what you’re doing, try and be the best person you can be, and hopefully in turn you’ll be a good role model for somebody else.”
Beckham said Michael Vick and Allen Iverson were the two athletes he looked up to who most shaped him as a young football player and budding star. He said Vick, who did time in jail for brutal dogfighting, gave him advice once on how to handle adversity.
“His advice was with the good, there’s bad,” Beckham recalled, “and you’ve just got to learn to deal with it and don’t let it use you. You’ve got to use it.”
Tuesday’s camp sold out. Six hundred kids, Grades 1 through 8, paid either $279 or $499 to attend Saturday’s Citi Odell Beckham Jr. Football ProCamp. Beckham’s star power, in other words, is in another stratosphere. Kids flocked to him often on Saturday, and each time Beckham slapped every hand he saw.
No other Giants were seen in attendance during the media portion of the event, but there was a young Odell look-alike with the same haircut that won a race and then celebrated with his fellow blondie.
“I didn’t expect kids to be dying their hair blonde,” Beckham said of his effect on kids, with a smile. “I have all kind of parents telling me my kid dyed his hair blonde because of you. I didn’t mean for all that stuff to happen.”
Beckham said he might have gotten the most out of one “little big kid” telling Beckham, ‘You inspired me to play football. I wasn’t doing anything but you inspired me to play football.’
“That kind of struck a nerve,” he said.
He said his goal is to show kids to “come out and play, give it your best every single time win, lose or draw; teach them how to come back after losing, and teach them not how to accept losing but to get better from it. Just keep continuing to grow and just have fun.
“From pretty much what I’ve seen everybody out here’s been having fun, except for one or two kids, I don’t know,” Beckham added. “Some parents were mad saying I didn’t get to this group yet, so right after this I’ll be sprinting to that group for sure and locking some kids up.”
And then he was off, trying to do the right thing.