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Odell Beckham Jr. and the cult of celebrity

Jaime C. Harris | 1/12/2017, 9:49 a.m.
We are living in a culture of celebrity worship. In this culture, personalities such as Kim Kardashian are famous for ...
Odell Beckham Jr. Contributed

We are living in a culture of celebrity worship. In this culture, personalities such as Kim Kardashian are famous for being famous, and an egomaniacal, reality television star has ascended to the presidency of the United States.

Social media and an overabundance of television networks and streaming media platforms have created a perfect storm of overexposure for athletes, entertainers and those aspiring to fame and fortune. Even journalists now live on the blurred lines of journalism and entertainment, many becoming bigger stars than the newsmakers they are charged with covering, placing the present and future of the industry in question and severely damaging the industry’s credibility.

The cult of celebrity has destroyed more careers than it has created, which is why New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. needs to take heed to the alarms being sounded by his current primary employer. In three seasons in the NFL, the 24-year-old Beckham, who was drafted by the Giants in the first round out of LSU in 2014, has shot to stardom. His meteoric rise began as a result of spectacular catches that were constantly looped on sports show highlights. Gradually, Beckham became more than a one-hit wonder. The product of New Orleans ascended to one of the best receivers in football.

His flair and good looks were a perfect match for New York City, a city made for stars, and Beckham dramatically reached A-list status by the age of 22. Suddenly, Beckham became the object of adoration by millions of fans around the world, mostly millennials, in large part via social media, a plurality of those admirers having limited knowledge of football. But the pressure and scrutiny grew at an equal rate.

Today, he is dissected and analyzed as much as any athlete in sports without having achieved the level of success in his profession, not even close, as a Serena Williams, Tom Brady or LeBron James, all certified champions and among the greatest of all-time in their disciplines.

Which is why OBJ, as he is commonly called, must take a step back and not be consumed by the cult of celebrity. If his goal is to attain immortality as a New York icon as has Walt Frazier, Lawrence Taylor and Joe Namath, winning a title is a requisite, or having sustained greatness over the course of a decade or more as did Patrick Ewing. Beckham must provide the city historic moments. He has to be more than a comet flashing across New York’s unparalleled skyline.