The lights are bright for Odell Beckham right now.
The NFL season is around the corner, and the superstar receiver just set a new standard for NFL contracts at his position, signing a 5-year, $95 million deal with the New York Giants with $65 million in guarantees.
"I really feel like a zoo animal."
— Yahoo Sports NFL (@YahooSportsNFL) August 29, 2018
LeBron James, Odell Beckham talk race, fame
James and Beckham got into a pointed discussion about their experience with fame as black athletes compared to their white counterparts.
James, sitting in a barber chair between Beckham and business partner Maverick Carter, kicked off the conversation talking about how he feels he’s treated differently than white NFL quarterbacks in social situations despite having peer status as an athlete.
“All you hear is like, I want to be the best. Whoever’s the best, they do it their way, whatever the case may be. And then, when you do it your way, and you win, it still ain’t enough.
“It still ain’t enough. And, and, and that’s for us as African Americans because I believe if the greatest quarterback in the world, he’s a white quarterback — if it’s Brady, if it’s Rodgers, if it’s Manning — and we’re doing the same s— the same exact s—. I’m talking about the phone is on. We’re like, ‘Yo, get that f—— phone out of my face. I’m with my family.’ If we’re out with our family, and we say that s—, and somebody posts it, and if Aaron Rodgers or one of those guys say that s—, and they post it, somebody’s going to be like, ‘Hey you guys should respect Aaron Rodgers. . They’re going to say to us, ‘Oh, you guys are [expletives]’”
Beckham: Sometimes I’m treated ‘like a show punk’
Beckham concurred with James and shared an experience he had with a fan wanting to take a picture.
“I had it happen the other day. I didn’t want to take a picture. Like, I’m like I’m really in a rush, I’ve got to go. I get on Twitter, it’s like, ‘Oh, yeah, I’m a Giants season ticket-holder for 30 years.’ I’m like, ‘First of all, you’re 20-something.’ And then, it’s like, oh, he’s an a——, he didn’t want to take a picture. It’s like…
“To me, I be feeling like, I tell people this all the time, I really feel like a zoo animal. Like that’s where life’s gone for me. You know, you used to take your kids to the zoo, and we used to be like, you know, I want to see the lions or let’s go see the lions. And you go out there, and the lions are laid out. You know what I mean? And it’s like, why aren’t they doing lion stuff, you know what I mean? Like I’ve got people who call out, Odell! Dance! Like, I’m a show punk, a show monkey or something. Like I’m a puppet, you know what I mean? And it’s like to me, that doesn’t feel good, but it’s like, damn, that’s what life became. But, can you ever really detach from that?”
That is frank, candid conversation on difficult topics from two of the world’s most prominent athletes.
James set out for Los Angeles in part to be able to pursue a media career that includes content like “The Shop.” So far, he’s making the most of that effort.
Athletes are continuing to expand the media power provided by social media and outlets like The Players Tribune that allow them to bypass traditional media and tell stories without filters. This is the next step in the evolution.
Guests like Beckham appear fully ready to take advantage of the opportunity.
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