Last week Odell Beckham Jr. rode yet another wave of tumultuous headlines ranging from fire emoji to sad Snap story.
Celebration restrictions were loosened, netting new hope for OBJ’s future relationships and highlight reels. The star wide receiver of the New York Giants serenely exercised in California while Eli Manning mundanely initiated their more raw pass-catching weapons back in Rutherford. Allegedly romance buds and skepticism spikes in the increased recreational company of Iggy Azalea and Johnny Manziel, at the expense of [optional] Organized Team Activities and head coach Ben McAdoo’s authoritative control.
Such a roller coaster nearly buries the lede of Nike securing Beckham as the richest off-field performer of the league. Officially adding shoe spokesperson to the keywords tagline of his resume, there is potential for the deal to ultimately reach $48 million in the span of eight years. Although not Lonzo Ball money on paper, it’s a much surer bet and a milestone for NFL player branding.
Still, the slope steadily becomes slipperier the more OBJ risks rubbing coaches, contemporaries, fans and onlookers the wrong way with his behavior.
Particularly with the timeless debate between harmless bravado versus crippling diva-centric mentality of wideouts, it’s always a matter of individual taste. Some teammates are accepting of the personality, and others in the past have challenged it; the same applies to sports pundits.
At what point, then, does the aesthetic appeal of a celebrity athlete – not to mention record-breaking statistics going into year No. 4 – lose its luster at the one-handed catch attempts’ mercy of interpersonal disfavor, diminishing overall value as a sport’s rising ambassador?
As it currently stands, even the negative publicity continues to be exfoliated. Plus, OBJ’s sense of style remains undeniable.
Beckham ranks at No. 64 in ESPN’s recently released World Fame 100, measuring athletes as individual entities both financially and in the public eye. Only six NFL players surpassed him and they’re all quarterbacks (including fellow G-Man Manning at No. 60). He also exceeds No. 47 Cam Newton in collective Facebook and Twitter followers (3.5 million to 2.9 million).
The pre-recorded endorsement worth of $6 million will assuredly ascend within this patched Nike partnership. Already a frosted-tips commercial face most notably through Head & Shoulders, OBJ can now boast an elevated platform for his notorious custom cleats and well-rounded humanitarianism. Courtesy of elf-esque shoemaker Troy “Kickasso” Cole, classics from the 2016 season feature tributes to 9/11, the late Craig Sager, Kirby and Toy Story.
Whether it’s a GQ fashion print show, award-contending ESPY’s attire, fresh fall flash, on a yacht with an ocelot…or even a bare-back homage to Planet of the Apes, Odell Beckham Jr’s image is on point (so long as there is a mute button per preference). He’s even managed somehow to find time for bundling apparel and gear with personalized lifestyle pieces.
At this point it’s simply a matter of mastering the line between revolutionizing himself as a respective icon from behind the Shield, and alienating a team-oriented culture above all else. Suits or sweatshirts, PR can only take as many hits as the amount of postseason wins OBJ eventually contributes to.
Regardless, we can all look forward to blue suede sneakers and the fines that come with them.
Mike L. // The Guide