The Giants can only hope that Odell Beckham Jr. doesn’t experience the same fate as the Mets’ Matt Harvey. Two years ago, Harvey seemed on the verge of becoming New York City’s next mega sports star. The starting pitcher had elevated himself to near the top of his craft, was a regular on the elite New York social circuit and was a favorite of celebrity gossip columnists.
But after being hampered by injuries and poor life decisions, including failing to show up a for a scheduled Mets game at Citi Field earlier this month, leading to a team imposed suspension, Harvey’s star has dramatically dimmed. So Beckham is now at the head of the table.
The 24-year-old wide receiver has reportedly signed the richest shoe deal ever for a football player, re-upping with Nike for purported five-years at $5 million per year. It is much more than the little over $1.8 million he will make with the Giants in the 2017 season, when he will be in the final year of his four-year rookie deal signed in 2014. The Giants exercised their option on Beckham for the 2018 season, so he won’t become a free agent until 2019.
The Nike contract speaks to both Beckham’s performance and popularity. He is one of the best receivers in football, amassing a staggering 288 catches, 4,122 yards and 35 touchdowns in his first three years in the league. In today’s social media world of followers equals dollars, and the Baton Rouge, La. native, who played high school football in New Orleans and then attended college at LSU, has a massive presence. Beckham has a combined 12 million followers on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
The 2014 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year and two-time Second Team All-Pro (2015, 2016) has been a lightning rod for controversy for his sideline antics—he once jokingly proposed to a kicking net —and on the field flare ups, which in December of 2015 led to a one-game suspension by the NFL after he was assessed three personal-foul penalties in a game against the Carolina Panthers.
It is all a part of why Beckham has become a global celebrity. For his millions of fans, he also has a multitude of detractors. Many New York sports icons, such as Walt Frazier, Daryl Strawberry, Mark Messier, Lawrence Taylor, Derek Jeter and even Eli Manning can share with Beckham that such status is only attained through winning a championship or multiple titles.
Rings are what etch stars as legendary. Beckham has proved he has the talent, personality and it factor to one day be in the company of the aforementioned athletes. But a title must be added to his resume. Furthermore, Harvey is a cautionary tale that success and the riches that come with it can be fleeting.