NFL players aren’t as known for taking fashion risks as NBA players are.
Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton has been in a class all his own when it comes to individual style, but Odell Beckham Jr. has become a darling of the fashion world as well.
To that end, he’s the cover star of August’s “GQ” magazine with a full fashion spread and interview with one of the magazine’s editors, Mark Anthony Green.
Online, the story starts with the claim that Beckham “opened up like he never has before,” and that wasn’t just hyperbole. Beckham touches on things we’ve never really heard him discuss before, including the rumors that he’s gay and how Rob Gronkowski is celebrated for having fun but he’s criticized.
Here’s four highlights, but the whole piece is worth your time:
He considered retirement because of the constant criticism
Beckham was a standout in other sports (“Golf Digest” has said he has a beautiful swing), and he was asked if he thinks about what would have happened if he hadn’t chosen football, which frowns on individuality.
“All the time, bro,” Beckham answered. “Literally every day. Especially on those days I'm down. I could've done any sport in the world. Not many people know, but I used to talk to my momma and I'd be like, ‘Ma, if I was done doing this now, would you still be proud of me?’ And this was a couple of years ago, about two or three years ago.”
Green asks if he really considered retirement.
“Twenty-four years old. Just off it. To love something so much to a place where it is my everything, and to watch it be tainted, or all kinds of things be in the middle of it. Like, it hurt me to my soul. It be like loving someone and putting them on such a level to where life is about them and you love that person through anything. Through the good, the bad. And to watch them do something so heinous and vulgar. Something just so, like, almost unforgivable. You still love them, but it's, like, Wow.”
Why is Gronk celebrated for having fun but OBJ is not?
Asked if he feels like he’s scrutinized more than other players, Beckham agrees.
“I watch other players in the NFL be able to go to Vegas and get wild and go onstage and be videotaped and chugging beer or whatever. Going crazy. And it's like, ‘Oh, man, look at how much fun he's having. Look at how he's having a blast! This is amazing,’” he said.
Green specifically offers a name – Gronkowski – who is known for his party persona, and if Beckham has done anything “more inappropriate” than the recently retired tight end.
“Probably not. It's the same thing,” Beckham said. “It's like, Why can't I have fun? People tell me I'm supposed to be a role model. Well, what are they supposed to be? We're human beings at the end of the day. We earned the right to play in the NFL, but we also earned a life of our own ...
“You never hear about my personal life. You never hear about the woman I'm dating or anything like that. And you won't. I don't need to give you that. You want to talk about my job, football? We can talk about that. But this is my personal life. There's two separate lines. So I always try to keep that.”
Two-faced behavior of former players Cris Carter and Ray Lewis
More than once, Carter has been critical of Beckham, including last year when he called Beckham a “little boy” for a video that surfaced of the then-Giants receiver with a woman and an unidentified white powder.
(Carter had problems with alcohol and drug abuse during his career.)
Behind the scenes, Beckham says, Carter and former Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis act like big brothers to him, but when cameras are on, they’re all too happy to judge him.
“Anybody who knows me knows. It's hard to sit there when Cris Carter talks about me,” Beckham said. “Ray Lewis is another one who sits there and talks to me like a little brother and shows love to me in person – we hug and embrace – but then they get on TV and say some stuff like ‘He doesn't know who God is.’
“Like, how do you judge another man's relationship with God? I feel like Drake when he said, ‘I'm always the bigger artist, that's why I have to play it smarter.’ That's how I feel. But it's hard, as a man, to just sit there and take and take and take, and not want to say something or do something back or retaliate.”
In a similar vein, Beckham doesn’t understand the criticism he gets when it seems like he doesn’t care enough after a loss – but that he’s also been too emotional on the sidelines during a game.
On his oft-questioned sexuality
As Green notes, for a while many gossip sites – particularly gossip sites by African-Americans – pushed the idea that Beckham is a closeted gay man.
He’s never really talked about the claims before.
“Honestly wasn't offended. I've never once had no problem with anybody who has their own personal life that they live,” Beckham said. “I have friends who are gay. It was almost more funny to me. I almost messed with them even more. It's like when someone gives me an ultimatum, I'm usually always going to go to the opposite way of what you want me to go. So when they would say that, I would almost mess with them even more. I have no problem with anyone's sexual orientation.”
Both Green and Beckham push back on the “small-minded” idea that a man is gay because he dyes his hair, like Beckham has done (he recently chopped off his shock of blond curls), or dances, and that pushing those ideas contributes to homophobia in the black community.
“Even like little videos where they see me leaned back or something, they'll say that I'm looking at a guy's ass. And I'm like, ‘Bro! You don't even know where my mind is at.’ It was just a lose-lose,” Beckham said. “They'd see me with a white woman and be like, ‘Why don't you be with any sisters?’
“I have no problem with any race. Love is love. If you're attracted to somebody, you're attracted to somebody. There was such a stigma built up, [as though] I don't like my own women. It's like, no, I don't like anybody who annoys me.”
More from Yahoo Sports: