Odell Beckham Jr. planned to measure his career by winning titles such as Super Bowls, Most Valuable Players, and Offensive Player of the Years. Those may come one day for the Giants wide receiver. But this season, the most likely honor that Beckham might collect is one he never wanted to be in the running for.
Comeback Player of the Year.
“It never was on my radar,” Beckham said of the somewhat backhanded compliment. After all, a player has to have been through some pretty bad stuff to receive that award.
Beckham certainly qualifies.
After missing most of 2017 with a fractured ankle, Beckham has returned to lead the Giants in receptions (61) and receiving yards (785) and is on pace to have career-highs in both categories.
“My concern was coming off an injury or not coming off an injury, to have the best season I’ve had yet,” Beckham said. “That’s still always going to be the goal. That’s what I’m working on.”
In the background, though, is the Comeback award. Beckham certainly has plenty of competition, from J.J. Watt to Deshaun Watson to Andrew Luck to Aaron Rodgers.
“I do watch the guys who did get injured,” Beckham said, including a player in the mix who he’ll see on Monday with the 49ers, cornerback Richard Sherman. “All those guys. There is a brotherhood that we have. In my mind, I’m not competing against them. I like their success . . . I keep close with those guys who did go down last season.”
Beckham has been impressive on the field so far in 2018, even if his team has flopped. He’s already on pace to record 1,570 receiving yards this season, which would break the franchise record set by Victor Cruz (1,536 in 2011). And, of course, his birthday was on Monday.
That celebration, Beckham has always insisted, is usually a turning point in his season. It’s when his productivity increases and the work he puts in during the offseason begins to show itself.
“I always feel that toward the back end of the season I feel like I do better,” Beckham said. “As the season goes on people’s bodies start to break down and I really try to maintain or if not maintain than be better than I was at Week 1 in Week 10. I feel a lot stringer going in toward the back end of the season. Now it’s time to do that.”
Beckham just turned 26. While some players may see that as a reminder of their football mortality – many careers are either wrapping up or more than halfway finished by that age – Beckham has always enjoyed Nov. 5.
“If we would have had a game this week I probably would have had the best game of my life,” he said of being on the bye. “Every time it’s around my birthday, even in high school, in high school I played on my birthday and had five touchdowns. When I was five years old I scored five goals in soccer. Around my birthday time, I don’t know what it is, the universal energy, whatever it is, I just play better and do better.”
Beckham joked that when the Giants play the 49ers on Monday it will not be his birthday but Cruz’s.
“I’m gonna have to do something for him,” Beckham said. “Hopefully I can score and do the salsa for him or something.”
Even without a game on his actual birthday, Beckham said he feels like he is in the best shape of his life.
“It’s still Scorpio season and it’s time to turn it up.”
That could lead to the Comeback Player award.
Beckham said he doesn’t keep track of the “race” for the honor.
“It hasn’t really been my concern,” he said.
But even if it is something he’s never strived for, it might make a nice token given all he went through to return to the field and, more importantly, return to form.
“I never really imagined being in a Comeback Player of the Year race,” he said, “but if I get a chance to win it I’ll take it.”