Browns WR Odell Beckham Jr. talks coronavirus concerns, being himself again

George M Thomas, Akron Beacon Journal on

Published in Football

Browns wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. doesn't sound completely at ease with the NFL and how it's handling the situation with coronavirus and a return to play.

In expressing that sentiment in a roundtable discussion where he appears with former NFL wide receiver Victor Cruz and current stars -- quarterback Cam Newton and running back Todd Gurley -- Beckham echoes sentiments made by the NFL Players Association, whose president is Browns center JC Tretter.

"Playing football has taken a backseat as far my safety and my health," Beckham said during the discussion in a video that appears on his YouTube channel.

In it, Beckham acknowledges the possibility the league may not be able to go on with a season.

"I'm not trying to catch COVID and spread it to my family and my loved ones," he said. "I've kind of just relaxed with the idea that I might not being playing this year. There are other issues at hand that we have to handle first."

As recently as last week, Tretter took the league to task for backtracking on following a committee of experts, which included doctors, strength coaches, advisement that the league run 48-day training camps to properly bring players up to speed and mitigate a potential spike in injuries.

"Despite these experts' assessment that teams face a serious risk of player-injury spikes this year (based on past NFL data and recent findings from sports leagues that have already returned to play this year)," Tretter wrote in an open letter, "the NFL is unwilling to prioritize player safety and believes that the virus will bend to football."

Beckham teed off at the proposition.

"The (expletive) is real, yet they're trying to make football happen," Beckham said. "With everything that's going on, what does that say about our country that this is that important that there's no plan for us, no nothing?"

Other tidbits from the conversation:


Beckham made it clear that he intends to let Odell be Odell, returning to the blonde look that brought him criticism in the past.

"I'm tired of playing your game ... They've taken that humbleness as a weakness and they s--- on us. It's just crazy to me because when you're up and you're talking, they hate it. And for me, this year, I'm trying to kill. That's it. I want an opportunity to catch the ball. I want the same opportunities all these other receivers have in the league when they're getting 2,000 targets and having 150 catches."

He revealed that after breaking his ankle in the 2017 pre-season by Browns defensive back Brian Boddy-Calhoun, he considered retiring, but stuck it out for his fans, especially the children who looked up to him.

"I fear the day they make this a business and not what I love and when I seen that for the first time, I thought about not playing no more," he said. "Like, this ain't really it for me because they've ruined the game of football for me a little bit."

Beckham also revealed playing for the New York Giants wasn't the ideal experience, confessing that he dealt with mental health issues while there due to losing on the field and not understanding how to handle it.

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