When Odell Beckham Jr. looked at his phone before dinner last month and saw he was getting a call from Giants general manager Dave Gettleman, he knew something was up. Their brief conversation let him know that he had been traded to the Browns.
“It was a lot of emotions, a lot of thoughts that run through your mind,” he said. “Your whole life is changing . . . It’s just a lot to process.”
On Monday, Beckham arrived at his new home in Berea, Ohio, apparently having come to grips with his new situation. Speaking publicly for the first time since the March 12 deal, and flanked by new teammates Jarvis Landry and Baker Mayfield at a news conference on the Browns’ first day of their offseason training program, Beckham said he is thrilled to be a Brown.
“I think this is the biggest blessing of my entire life,” he said.
He added that he thought Monday’s news conference — and the image of those players sitting side-by-side before eventually holding up a No. 13 jersey — will “be more iconic than we realize now” and “the start of something great.”
Beckham did not speak much about the team he left behind, although he did reference a recent conversation he had with close friends Sterling Shepard and Saquon Barkley.
“We were all like ‘Damn,’ ” Beckham said. “It’s just different.”
He also spoke about the “love” he already feels in the Browns’ facility, saying several times how “different” it is.
When asked if being traded will add “fuel to his fire,” Beckham simply nodded yes.
“That’s all I’m going to say,” he said.
The Browns, meanwhile, are thrilled to have Beckham not only on the roster but with them for the start of their offseason program. Coach Freddie Kitchens said he was joking last week when he said his first words to Beckham upon seeing him at the facility would be “I love you,” but he wound up sticking to that line and threw in a hug. Beckham said he loved him right back.
“It’s like a love story,” Kitchens said.
Landry spoke about how he cried when told about the trade that brought longtime friend and college teammate Beckham to the Browns. “I feel like we spoke this into existence,” Beckham said.
Mayfield spoke about how he screamed when he heard the news. Mayfield and Beckham had worked out together in California last offseason, brought together by Shepard (who played with Mayfield at Oklahoma). “The thing we kept saying was ‘this can’t be real,’ ” Mayfield said of their phone conversation shortly after the trade.
It was. And now it’s even more real after Beckham showed up and wore a Browns baseball cap at the news conference. Kitchens noted that Beckham “looks good in orange. And brown.”
Beckham said he already has spoken with LeBron James about Cleveland. He knows that James brought a championship to the city with the Cavaliers, and Beckham said he wants to do the same for the Browns. That’s something no one has been able to do since 1964.
“I’ve watched this team from afar,” Beckham said of the Browns’ transition from 0-16 in 2017 to a projected Super Bowl contender in 2019. “Now it’s like it’s finally here and I’m excited to be a part of something like this, a team that is ascending and kind of changing the culture.”
The team’s, and his own.
“As it all settled in, I’m very excited about this,” he said. “It’s going to be one of the best things that ever happened to me in my life.”