Although he has only been in the league three seasons, New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. is one of the most polarizing players of this generation. Notorious for catching passes one-handed, he seems to catch hate just as well. The three-time pro bowler has had a tremendous career on the field, and as far as stats go, he is on pace to become the leading receiver in just about every statistical category. If shattering long-standing records and milestones was not enough, he undoubtedly made one of the best catches the league has ever seen in just the seventh game of his career. Despite his accomplishments, Beckham Jr. continues to gather wide-spread criticism for his on-and-off the field antics. Most elite athletes experience this process, but his celebrity lifestyle magnifies his actions and ultimately reaches larger audiences, in effect giving more people the chance to form opinions about him on both sides of the spectrum.
Wide Receiver Odell Beckham Jr. – The NFL’s Most Polarizing Player
Psychologically, when reading a piece of writing from an unbiased perspective, the average person tends to agree with what they are reading. Meaning that after finishing an article or storyline, it’s fairly common to share similar stances or emotions with that of the author. When this is the case, all it takes to sway popular opinion is just a single “expert” and their interpretation of a scenario, whether the intent, action, or event, is detailed in an accurate manner.
In many occasions, “experts” do not provide holistic details, because for the publication companies hyperbole is often the most beneficial. The whole story may be exaggerated or distorted to fit a desired perception. This created perception is dependent on the organization behind it and can either be a good or bad image for the athlete.
Beckham Jr. has fallen victim to this more times than not, especially intriguing since he has never been in any legal or domestic issues. Due to his celebrity status and extremely marketable personality, writers find it easy to cultivate content surrounding him, both positive and negative.
Most articles regarding Beckham Jr. contain absurd click-bait headlines to get each side of his fandom to view the writing. In the long-run this only further divides opinions by fueling each side to support their view on the situation and discredit anybody who disagrees. The longer this process continues, the greater the contrast becomes between opinions.
Feuds & Antics
Perhaps the most polarizing event in Beckham Jr.’s NFL timeline is his feud with cornerback Josh Norman. The snide comments and social media jabs have been occurring for almost two years now, but it all started December 20, 2015 in a week 15 game against the Carolina Panthers.
After multiple Panthers players, whom were flaunting a baseball bat, approached Beckham Jr. during pre-game, the wideout lost his cool. During the game, he racked up a one-game suspension and three unnecessary roughness fouls against Norman, one of which included him sprinting downfield and colliding in an intentional helmet to helmet hit. Norman also lost self-control and made his fair share of mistakes, winding up with two of his own unnecessary roughness penalties and a $25,000 fine.
Fast forward to September 25, 2016 during a week 3 match-up versus the Washington Redskins. In a heated rematch with Norman, Beckham Jr. let his emotions take over when he punched a kicking net. Shortly after this occurred, videos went viral after the net infamously tipped over and hit him back in the head. After receiving the title “diva” from major publications, this newfound, emotional, Dez Bryant-esque side of Beckham Jr. was quickly exploited and used countless times a week to explain any action he took, no matter how insignificant. While this angered many people, it simultaneously satisfied the fans who did not like him. This was the focal point where NFL fans quickly segregated into groups that were either for or against Beckham
What do superstar athletes like Cleveland Cavalier LeBron James, quarterback Tom Brady, and Pittsburgh Penguin Sidney Crosby have in common? They are not only all top performers in their respected sports, but they also have an enormous amount of bandwagon fans. These types of fans truly ignite the arguments regarding players at the caliber of Beckham Jr. because they are not a true follower of the team/player. Therefore, some of their views may be misled or misinformed, leading them to spew nonsense or annoyingly remarks. In future arguments with fellow sports fans, this only intensifies the feelings of both parties, leading to even more frustration between spectators via social media.
Now more than ever, experts and fans alike are beginning to compare and rank athletes. Of course every mind works differently, so agreement is not expected. In fact, ranking sole purpose is to gain attention by getting people involved in the discussion. Where it goes wrong is when fans legitimately get offended by their favorite players ranking and lash out in blasphemy. A prime example of this would be the wide receiver rankings, where Antonio Brown and Julio Jones are regularly ranked ahead of Beckham. The fans who respond with obnoxious and uneducated comments are the ones sparking debates and furthering the polarization process.
At the end of the day, sports fans will never agree on anything. They never have and never will, but that is the name of the game. Whether he’s loved or hated over his celebrity status, antics, or fans, Odell Beckham Jr. is undoubtedly the most polarizing player in the NFL.