Odell Beckham Jr.'s career has only just begun. In fact, when EA Sports announced this week that the player with the "catch of the year" had been selected to grace the cover of Madden NFL 16, the 22-year-old became the youngest player ever to do so.
But asked what he would change about the NFL, the wide receiver answered with the poise of a confident man.
“I think that we should make more money, personally,” Beckham told The Huffington Post.
It may seem an easy comment to scoff at at first -- rich young men making more money -- but Beckham's argument makes some sense. Here's his reasoning:
I understand that basketball plays 80-something games, baseball plays this many games, soccer plays that many games, but this is a sport that’s most-watched in America. A sport where there’s more injuries. There’s more collisions.
It’s not even a full-contact sport, I would call it a full-collision sport. You have people running who can run 20 miles per hour and they’re running downhill to hit you, and you’re running 18 miles per hour. That’s a car wreck.
It’s just the careers are shorter. There’s injuries that you have after you leave the game, brain injuries, whatever it is, nerve injuries. And it’s just something that I feel as if there’s no way someone who -- even if they did their three or four years in the league -- should have to worry about money for the rest of their lives.
According to Forbes, the average NFL player made $2 million in 2013 -- less than the average player in the NHL, NBA and MLB players, the latter of which, as Beckham pointed out, isn’t drawing in the viewership that football does. Football also had the lowest minimum salary in 2014, at $420,000, of all the major sports leagues.
But Beckham, who noted that he’s “not a player rep or anything,” said there could still be more money up front for players.
“I understand we have more players, but look, there has to be some way to balance that out,” he said.
His comments arrive on the heels of a federal judge finally approving a settlement over lawsuits filed by thousands of former NFL players related to the league's concussion problem. The settlement could leave the NFL owing $1 billion over the next 65 years.
In Beckham's opinion, former players deserve every cent of compensation they get:
Out of the gate I feel as if there could be more money up front for the players. I’m not a player rep or anything, but speaking on what I’ve seen and I can see how those '30 for 30’s and people go broke and stuff like that. Tomorrow’s never promised. So I feel as if that they should all have been compensated for being in the NFL and being on a team. I understand we have more players, but look, there has to be some way to balance that out.
Either way, fans and viewers can expect a lot from Beckham this year, who set numerous franchise and league records last season as a rookie. And the competition won’t likely end as he comes off the field.
Beckham explained that he and teammates Victor Cruz and Jordan Stanton are the top video game players on the team as well. And when Madden NFL 16 hits shelves this August, there may be more bragging rights at stake.
“It does get very competitive," he said. "You’re an athlete you don’t want to lose period in whatever you’re doing.”