Odell Beckham, Jr. is an emotive football player. He is prone to sideline tantrums, tantrums that sports journalists call “a distraction” and pretend to hate but really love more than anything in the world. He is also a sublimely talented receiver with a penchant for making miraculous catches and is the best thing to happen to the NFL in years. He is a magical player who seems to have very little control over his emotions while he is playing. This makes him the dream athlete for those who talk and write about sports, even, or especially, for those who condemn his behavior.
Last week, during one of his signature outbursts, Beckham struck a kicking net with his helmet. The net, acting in self defense, swung around and hit Beckham in the face. The effect was comical and Beckham came away looking pretty silly. This week, after catching a touchdown in a losing effort against The Packers, Beckham marched down the sideline and gave the kicking net a hug. This is as charming an event we are likely to witness this NFL season. Professional athletes are generally known to take themselves pretty seriously, so the sight of one recognizing his own foolishness and lightly making fun of himself is more than a little delightful. Watch it here.
Delightfulness is rare in professional sports. Pro sports are often exciting or exhilarating, they are sometimes heartbreaking or inspiring, entertaining or panic-inducing, they bring joy and sorrow in equal measure. They are not often simply delightful; so when a top athlete hugs a kicking net in a show of humorous self-reflection, the moment should be enjoyed. Undoubtedly Beckham will be criticized by fuddy-duddies for not displaying enough dourness while his team was losing. Those guys can shove it. NFL football can afford a little more whimsy. The Renaissance Fan endorses Odell Beckham, Jr.