Odell Beckham Jr. was blue.
He wasn’t just feeling that way, he was dressed in blue.
After his Cleveland Browns had held off the Cincinnati Bengals, 27-19, at FirstEnergy Stadium on Sunday, the much-trumpeted wide receiver stepped in front of his locker wearing a blue cape with an oversized hood that partially hid his face, but not the flat tone in his voice.
No, he said, he was not going to talk about the pregame reports by FOX Sports’ Jay Glazer that said he had been lobbying opposing players and coaches all season long – sometimes before kickoff, sometimes during games – to “Hey, come get me. Come get me out of here.”
Glazer said Beckham wanted out of Cleveland in the worst of ways and let everyone knows it.
Beckham hadn’t denied the report, especially after he had made some confusing comments a couple of days ago when he said he couldn’t sit there and “tell you whether I‘m going to be here, going to leave, want to be here, don’t want to be here.”
When that only fueled the fire, he had gone on Twitter to say: “I NEVER said I was not happy in Cleveland. Just like everybody else, I’m hopeful for better results.”
Sunday though – when he had just two catches for 39 yards in what is becoming the worst statistical season not cut short by injury of his career – he didn’t seem that happy.
He was surrounded by media who wanted to know two things: If he wanted out and what was the extent of a sports hernia he said has hampered him all season.
It’s been bad enough that he doesn’t practice until a couple of days before each game. And on the field he can’t run and make the acrobatic catches like he once did as a New York Giant, his previous team where he became one of the marquee players in the league.
He suggested his inquisitors should check with his doctor. He wouldn’t commit if he would have postseason surgery or even that he needed it.
He did expound briefly on the plight of the 6-7 Browns, who haven’t lived up to expectations this season, but have won four of their last five games:
“Obviously, there are variables that have to happen for us to get into (the playoffs) so all we can do is win the rest of our games and let fate be fate.”
That the Browns won Sunday — after turning the ball over three times and having 10 fewer first downs and 120 fewer total yards than their opponent — would have be unlikely were they playing anybody but the 1-12 Bengals, who have the worst record in the NFL.
Once again, poor play calling in the red zone stymied the Bengals, as did costly penalties.
The Browns prevailed thanks to Denzel Ward’s first-quarter interception of Andy Dalton that he returned 61 yards for a touchdown and especially the running of Nick Chubb.
Held to just seven rushing yards in the first half, the second-year back exploded for 99 in the second half and ended up with 106 on just 15 carries.
The underrated, understated Chubb entered the game as the NFL’s leading rusher with 1,175 yards. He came into the game with 11 carries of 20 yards or more, which also led the league.
He padded those figures Sunday, including demoralizing the Bengals with a 57-yard sprint in the third quarter that set up a Kareem Hunt’s 3-yard plunge two plays later that gave Cleveland a 21-13 lead.
Cleveland has been derailed at times this season because of all the drama that surrounded some of their players. The season opened with left tackle Greg Robinson kicking a rival Tennessee player, a cheap shot that got him banished from the game and helped the Browns stumble out of the gate.
More recently there’s been the season-ending, helmet-bashing assault by Myles Garrett of Pittsburgh quarterback Mason Rudolph.
And, of course, there’s been the continued controversies surrounding Beckham.
Remember, he didn’t come to Cleveland of his own free will.
After signing a 5-year, $90 million contract extension last March with the Giants, he was unceremoniously sent to Cleveland.
“This wasn’t no business move,” he told Sports Illustrated in the preseason. “This was personal. They thought they’d send me here to die.”
While he does have 59 catches for 844 yards this season – numbers many receivers would relish – that’s not up to Beckham standards.. Especially since he had just two touchdown catches.
While everyone from Beckham to his pal Jarvis Landry — who led Cleveland receivers Sunday with four catches for 76 yards — tried to tamp down any controversy, the Browns were unable to keep a complete lid on the headline-stirring comments
After the game Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield — known for his outspokenness — ripped the team’s medical staff for the way they’ve handled Beckham’s groin injury.
“Yeah I’d say it wasn’t handled right,” he said. “He’s not able to run as well as he should be able to. You can sense that’s where some of his frustrations comes from. It wasn’t handled the right way in our training room.”
Mayfield suggested a preseason surgery would have cost Beckham only a game or two and said he’d be back healthy now.
Later, he apologized for his comments via his Twitter account.
But Mayfield said even at less than 100 percent, Beckham is good for this team.
Across the dressing room from Beckham’s locker, defensive tackle Larry Ogunjobi agreed with Mayfield, but for a different reason.
He said the Beckham portrayed in the media isn’t the player he often sees behind closed doors. And he offered an example.
He told about a 17-year-old kid from North Carolina who had always dreamed of visiting the Cleveland Browns and had been granted that wish through his school.
Ogunjobi took the boy and his family bowling Friday night and then brought him to the locker room Saturday. He wanted him to meet a few players and maybe even get Beckham just to say, “Wassup?”
“Odell went and got him a pair of shoes and signed them and then Jim Brown signed them, too,” Ogunjobi said. “The kid felt really special.
“That’s the type guy Odell is, too. He’s very caring and considerate. There’s a lot more to him than people know.”
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