Odell Beckham Jr, one of the NFL’s biggest stars, says the season should not go ahead as the Covid-19 pandemic continues its spread across the United States.
“Obviously with everything that’s going on, it doesn’t make sense why we’re trying to do this,” the Cleveland Browns receiver told the Wall Street Journal in an interview published on Monday.
More than 155,000 people have died from Covid-19 in the United States, and the number of cases is on the rise across large parts of the country. Dozens of players have already opted out of the season due to concern over the virus – including seven from the New England Patriots – with games due to start next month.
“We’re not ready for football season. So why are we trying to push forward? It’s obviously for their money,” Beckham said. “And that bothers me because there’s always been this – and I hate saying it like that – but the owners’ [attitude is], ‘Oh, we own you guys,’ and just kind of that unfairness going on that they don’t see us as human. I just feel like the season shouldn’t happen and I’m prepared for it to not happen and I wouldn’t mind not having it.”
The Wall Street Journal interview was conducted in July, and Beckham has not said whether he will play for the Browns this season. Mary Kay Cabot, the Browns beat writer for the Cleveland Plain Dealer, reported on Monday that Beckham currently has no plans to opt out. Cabot reported Beckham has felt more comfortable with the idea of playing football again after seeing the precautions taken at the Browns’ training facility.
The NBA, MLB, MLS and NHL have all resumed competition in recent weeks. The NBA has resumed in an “isolation bubble” at Disney World in Florida, but Beckham said basketball’s conditions are different from those of football.
“I can understand basketball was already in the playoffs,” he said. “Five-on-five basketball in an arena is going to be more intense than regular-season games. Hooping is different than playing an 11-on-11 contact sport where there’s 80 people in a locker room.”
In a YouTube discussion with other NFL stars last month, Beckham said he had briefly considered retiring from the game after sustaining an ankle injury in 2017.
“I struggled to deal with that,” said Beckham. “Depression, mental health issues, being in New York, not really liking it.”
The 27-year-old Beckham is one of the most explosive players in the NFL, and is a three-time Pro Bowler. However, he has struggled with injuries and has only played in all 16 regular-season games twice since entering the league in 2014.