Opinion: Odell Beckham Jr. again leaves everyone wondering what he’s doing
There are some things that can’t be treated flippantly.
Like the COVID-19 virus, which has already killed more than 220,000 Americans and upended life as we once knew it. Or NCAA rules on handing out gobs of money to “student-athletes” in plain view of the whole world.
Odell Beckham Jr. failed spectacularly on both fronts Wednesday.
Right about the time the Cleveland Browns wide receiver was explaining in nonsensical fashion why he wasn’t worried about contracting COVID, LSU was announcing it was banning Beckham from its facilities for two years because of his antics after the Tigers won the national title game earlier this year.
It’s not clear if Beckham was joking when he said he didn’t fear getting COVID-19 because, “I don’t think it’s going to enter this body. I don’t want no parts of it, it don’t want no parts of me. It’s a mutual respect.” But whether he was or wasn’t is largely irrelevant.
Odell Beckham Jr. didn't find trouble once on Wednesday but twice with his comment about COVID-19 and being banned from LSU for two years. (Photo: Ken Blaze, USA TODAY Sports)
The NFL has worked mightily to convey COVID-19’s risk to teams, coaches and players, first creating detailed protocols and then threatening fines and forfeits for non-compliance. While it’s true younger and fitter people are less likely to die or get gravely ill from the highly contagious COVID-19, it still poses a danger.
Eduardo Rodriguez, who was to have been the Boston Red Sox’s starting pitcher on opening day, only got clearance to start walking on a treadmill Sept. 25 after testing positive for COVID-19 on July 7.
After COVID outbreaks among the Tennessee Titans and New England Patriots, the protocols were tightened even further and the message repeated that the disease was a threat to not just league personnel, but to the season itself.
So to hear Beckham, after all this, still sound so willfully clueless was astonishing.
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And if he was joking? That’s little better. There is still a good portion of this country that either thinks the virus is a hoax or sees it as no big deal, and there are those gullible enough to drink bleach after President Donald Trump suggested it might be a fine remedy. They don’t need Beckham and his faux invincibility to give them any more encouragement.
As for the sanctions from LSU, yes, the NCAA’s rules on college athletes getting paid are archaic and unreasonable, and need to be overhauled. But they are still, for now, the rules. Beckham knows that. It wasn’t that long ago that he himself was subject to them.
Yet he went ahead and spread around a wad of $100 bills after LSU beat Clemson in January, and did so in full view of cameras. Maybe he was trying to make a scene, maybe he was trying to make a splash. But his foolish stunt caused real trouble for LSU.
The only way Beckham could have made things worse Wednesday was to tweet out some conspiracy theories. At least his antics are more original than that.
Follow USA TODAY Sports columnist Nancy Armour on Twitter @nrarmour.
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