Some NFL players use their voice to speak out on behalf of their faith. Others use their platform to support their community; still others, social justice. Only one is going to the wall for a watch that costs as much as a house.
Cleveland, welcome to the OBJ Experience. You can’t say you weren’t warned.
Odell Beckham Jr., possessed of an infinite capacity to both outrun his defenders and infuriate his backers, has decided to make as his first cause of 2019 the right to wear a Richard Mille RM 11-03 McLaren watch while on the field of play.
The watch retails for $191,500, but you might be able to knock a few bucks off that if you keep your eyes open for a Groupon. Only 500 were made, and possibly only one — the one on OBJ’s wrist as he played Tennessee on Sunday — has a custom Cleveland Browns-orange band.
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It’s a beauty of a watch, and a damn sight better for timekeeping than pulling out your phone every 10 minutes. But it’s one hell of a curious talisman to bring onto a field if you’re truly interested in winning football games. And it definitely doesn’t pair well with victimhood ... which is exactly what Beckham, for whatever reason, is now doing.
At a Tuesday media session, Beckham was asked about his fashion future in regards to the watch. “I’ll still be wearing it,” he replied. Asked to clarify if he meant during games, he added, “The same way I wear it every day, at practice, I go here, I go there. I’ve been wearing it. Take a shower with it on. It’s just on me.”
The NFL forbids players from wearing watches on the field for the obvious reason that players on the field are running into each other at high speeds, and having a watch in the mix does nobody any good. There’s a clock right there on the stadium wall, if Beckham’s worried about missing a dinner reservation.
Of course, Beckham has found a seam in the NFL rules and has proceeded to treat it the way he treats the Washington secondary: with total disregard.
“You’ve got to look into the rulebook,” he said, when asked specifically about the NFL’s prohibition. “It says you can’t wear any hard objects,” he said. “The watch is plastic. But people have knee braces on that are hard and made out of metal and you don’t see them taping it up, no jewelry on, so I’m good.”
To paraphrase the esteemed dinosaur expert Dr. Ian Malcolm: OBJ’s so concerned with whether he could bring a watch onto the field that he’s not even thinking about whether he should.
Seriously. Wearing a $200,000 watch on an NFL field? In what world other than Planet OBJ is this a good idea?
Called out on the absurdity of bringing a watch that’s four times the value of the average Cleveland house into a game, Beckham retreated to an easy cliche: that he’s the real victim here.
“I’m here to play football,” Beckham said. “I would love for them to talk about football and what I do on the field, if I messed up on the field or if I didn’t do well on the field, talk about my performance. Don’t talk about any extracurricular, that’s just it. If anybody else would’ve worn the watch, or if it was a $20 watch, it wouldn’t have been no problem.”
That’s exactly right. But this is Odell Beckham Jr., second-highest-paid wide receiver in the league. And this is a six-figure watch he made sure to wear so that it showed up on television and in photos. One does not do such things if one is interested only in playing football. You can’t go blowing off fireworks in your backyard and get upset when the neighbors complain about the noise. You can’t claim you’re just interested in doing your job when you bring a Mardi Gras band with you to the office.
NFL coaches love to talk about “distractions.” A player speaking his mind isn’t a distraction. A player losing focus because he’s trying to find the pieces of his quarter-million-dollar watch that got stomped into the turf … now that’s a distraction. The Browns play the Jets on Monday night, and every member of the Jets secondary has to be eyeing Beckham’s left wrist the way Bill Belichick eyes reputation-damaged players.
Good on Beckham for buying (or, at the very least, receiving) the watch; as one of the league’s marquee players, he’s earned it. Cleveland is going to get some astonishing production and some amazing catches out of him. But along the way, it might just find out why the Giants deemed him expendable, too.
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