SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- They were teammates for just one season at LSU, but that was all New York Giants receiver Odell Beckham Jr. needed to develop a respect for Arizona Cardinals safety Tyrann Mathieu that's still strong four years later.
Beckham was a freshman at LSU when Mathieu was a sophomore in 2011, and together they lost in the national championship to Alabama. They would've been teammates again in 2012 but Mathieu was kicked off the team that August for failing a drug test and later had any chance of reinstatement disappear after he was arrested two months later.
"It's been a guy that I've looked up to for a long time," Beckham said after Friday's Pro Bowl practice at Scottsdale Community College. "A guy who's been at the top and a guy who's been all the way down at the bottom and still remained the same the entire way through.
"Skills like that is something that I admire in a person -- someone who goes through such controversy and adversity and is still able to overcome it."
But Beckham never thought Mathieu would give up.
"Just says a lot about the person and his character," Beckham said. "It's something that I expect from him. I expect nothing but greatness from him. That's what he gives every time."
Beckham experienced some of that adversity during his rookie season in 2014.
He missed the first four games with a hamstring injury but recovered to lead all rookie receivers with 1,305 yards and 12 touchdowns in 12 games. His injury, coupled with the knee injury Mathieu suffered in Week 14 of 2013, kept them from working out together during last offseason.
The two New Orleans natives kept in touch and would "chop it up back-and-forth," Beckham said. They also share a similar style: Like Mathieu, Beckham has the top of his hair dyed blonde.
"I don't know if it's really [a tribute] to him," Beckham said. "It's our little style, so it just works out."