LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — Odell Beckham Jr. has been to the Pro Bowl in each of his three NFL seasons, but the sting of playing after a postseason loss is something new he’s trying to adjust to this week.
“Ultimately, the goal is the Super Bowl. This is the backup,” he said after a morning practice at Disney’s Wide World of Sports complex Thursday ahead of Sunday’s Pro Bowl in Orlando. “It’s an accomplishment in itself, but not the prize I’m looking for.”
Between playing in the Super Bowl and injuries, 29 players pulled out of the Pro Bowl, but Beckham wanted to play for his fans, autographing a No. 13 Giants jersey for one during his interview. “This one is hard for me, because the past two years, I haven’t made the playoffs,” he said. “This one, I kind of just came here to be with these kids, to hang out with these guys because it’s a special moment.”
Beckham’s first trip to the playoffs was a 38-13 loss to the Packers, with more trouble before and after. He made a much-publicized trip with teammates to Miami after the final regular-season game, then reportedly punched a hole in a wall in frustration after the loss at Lambeau Field.
Beckham didn’t address those incidents specifically Thursday but said he’s spent time this week with another receiver, the Cowboys’ Dez Bryant. The two have helped each other through their struggles on and off the field.
“We’re always a work in progress. I feel like as you get older, you grow and mature,” Beckham said. “That should never stop. As soon as you stop growing, you should be done living. I’ll always be growing and forever learning, forever taking in advice from people I deeply respect.”
Beckham, 24, said he and Bryant have a bond. Bryant is four years older but their November birthdays are one day apart, leading Beckham to calling themselves “Scorpio brothers.” The two traded throws and one-handed catches at practice, and Beckham said the two text often, having gone through some of the same problems in their careers.
“We’ve very close-knit and we love football an extreme amount,” he said. “We do the same for each other, always giving advice. I can look back on texts and remember times when stuff was going down and I’ve been like, ‘Let’s try and do this and be better at this.’ ”