Editor's note: Tony Grossi covers the Cleveland Browns for ESPN 850 WKNR.
An open letter to Odell Beckham Jr. …
The question for you is not how are you but where are you?
We know your life has no privacy, and for that reason it isn’t easy being OBJ.
What with Page Six tracking you down at Coachella, someone apparently without authorization posting pics of you on Instagram riding a bicycle in The Maldives – it couldn’t have been you because you value your privacy too much to offer up pics of yourself away from football -- and that disturbing phone call a month ago from Dave Gettleman interrupting your vacay in Paris.
The nerve of that guy giving you a chance to win with not just any old team but with The Team of the 2020s. To think you could have been traded to Buffalo and stayed in New York state without having to change your driver’s license.
Anyways, we in Cleveland were wondering where you are at a time the rest of your new teammates are having a minicamp.
Yes, I know it’s voluntary. Meaning you don’t get fined for not showing up.
Just like the offseason conditioning program. Voluntary. It’s the greatest piece of language won by the players in the 2011 CBA extension. Voluntary means the coach can’t say, “Get your a** in here.” The GM can’t even say, “We wish Odell were here” without being attacked for violating the spirit, if not the rule, of the CBA.
So, we get that. But voluntary doesn’t mean unimportant.
You have 50 new teammates you’ve never played with, a bunch of new coaches, and a new offense everyone is supposed to be learning together. Everyone but you. Don’t you feel a responsibility to be here?
Freddie Kitchens has talked about how building the trust, building the respect, begins right now. That is what’s important this time of year.
We know you’re in great physical condition. Frankly, I’m a little concerned about your mental condition.
I mean, these social media rants to your zillions of followers. Somebody described it as a meltdown.
Yes, Gettleman was wrong to imply you were a culture problem in New York. I actually loved your retort: “Yes I’m cancer to a place that’s ok wit losing because I want to win that BADDDD. Ur absolutely correct!”
The Giants were a hopeless situation. Listen, we know Pat Shurmur. They’re not winning anything over there.
So, can we agree that Gettleman did you a favor by trading you to a football-mad market ready to explode with giddiness and love and adoration?
I know the trade shocked your system, rocked your world, dented your ego. But you have to get over it. It’s the best thing that could happen to you at this stage of your career.
You being away from the minicamp and the offseason program is a bad optic. You’re actually making the Giants and Gettleman look good. They’re over there saying, “See? That’s why we traded him.”
We don’t care what they’ve said about you. We don’t care about that dumb boat trip, don’t care about your temper outbursts on the sidelines during games, don’t care about not traveling with the Giants after an injury, don’t care about your interview incriminating Eli Manning.
Get over that chapter of your career. The only way to do that is to step forward. Join your new team. Write your next chapter.
You are so lucky to be joining a team on the cusp of greatness.
They were good enough without you to challenge for the upcoming division title. Your arrival got them the third-shortest odds to win the AFC, per Las Vegas sports books. You got them one additional prime-time game in 2019, according to NFL schedule-makers.
Don’t put yourself above the team. That’s feeding into the Giants’ narrative.
When you rearranged your very busy schedule to show up on April 1 on the first day of the offseason program, you made a point in your interviews to express excitement about what lay ahead.
“I would just tell [Browns fans] to get ready for some of the most exciting times of their lives,” you said. “I want to be able to give these people the best, the most excitement, that you could possibly have, and win, obviously. I just want to come in and be myself, be the very, very best player that I can be and be able to add. I never want to subtract … want to be able to add as much as I can to this roster.”
You told NFL Network reporter Kimberly Jones, “I think Cleveland is going to get the best version of Odell Beckham Jr. that they could possibly have. If I can do that, I think it’s going to be a match made in heaven.”
The season has actually started. This town is going crazy in April about your team. But this team can’t just flick a switch in September and be great. It needs to meld into a team before that.
So where are you?