Odell Beckham's NFL journey has proven to be meandering, filled with twists and turns, highs and lows and a Super Bowl ring won somewhere along the way.
Beckham won said ring with the Los Angeles Rams, for whom he played less than a full season. He hasn't dressed in the Rams' blue and gold since February of 2022. Yet, he's still quite fond of the team he'll face this weekend as a member of the Baltimore Ravens.
"It's a special bond that I have with those guys over there -- 'Coop' (Cooper Kupp), (Matthew) Stafford," Beckham said Wednesday, per the team transcript. "I still hit a little group chat. Talked a little trash with them this week. It's just all love and respect.
"(Rams head coach Sean) McVay's been … He kind of was the person who ... the whole situation and organization brought me back to loving and having joy for football and understanding true professionalism and being prepared. It was just a great experience for me, alongside winning a Super Bowl. Overall, it was one of the best things that's happened in my life."
Beckham needed a reset when he landed in Los Angeles. His ballyhooed move from New York to Cleveland never produced the results he or anyone else hoped to see, and he left the Browns as a bit of a pariah via a controversial exit related to quarterback Baker Mayfield and a devolving situation in Cleveland.
He moved from the Rust Belt to the sunshine of L.A., a place he knew quite well. And he left a rudderless team for a club that ended up going on a run to a Lombardi Trophy, a process Beckham completed by scoring the first touchdown of Super Bowl LVI before exiting with a knee injury that cost him the entire following season.
"Starting with there, it just was something that … There's been other situations where I didn't feel prepared the way that I felt prepared over there from the way that they come in for meetings, in the way that they look at the film and dissect each player, team, [saying] 'These plays are going to work.' I just felt prepared," Beckham said. "I think McVay does an incredible job. I remember even [in] the month of November, they lost. I don't know what to say, 'we' or 'they.' I'm over here now, but we, at the time, had lost three games in a row, and I watched him never waver.
"I've seen some coaches lose, and you see a completely different person, so that's always been my biggest compliment about him. He knows, for sure. Publicly, I've spoken about him. I have nothing but the utmost love and respect for him and that place over there and those people."
In seemingly a flash, Beckham's tenure as a Ram came and went. He didn't leave empty-handed, but by the time he was healthy enough to play again, the Rams were no longer an ideal partner for a veteran aiming to pursue another title. Beckham instead returned to the AFC North, joining a Ravens receiving corps in an offseason that saw plenty of change in the room.
"Two years ago, I was over there, and I scored a touchdown to win the game (against the Ravens). Now, I'm over here," Beckham said. "Hopefully, I can do the same thing and return the favor to them."
The end of Beckham's response could be read, without context, as fighting words. It's not that, not even close -- just ask McVay.
"Yeah, I keep in touch. I love Odell," McVay said Wednesday, per the Rams' transcript. "He sure means a lot to me. It was a blessing to be able to coach him and he's as fun a guy as there is.
"He's so talented. He works hard. He's a great teammate. The ways that he elevated our program and what he meant to our team. And then because you appreciate the person so much, I always root for him except for this week. I have a lot of good memories, a lot of good memories that he made some huge plays when we went back here in 2021 on a fourth-down catch, and then obviously being able to make the game-winning touchdown. But he's on the bad guys this week so we'll root for him after that."
Beckham's time in Baltimore hasn't been all roses and sunshine. He's battled through a handful of injuries in 2023, appearing in 10 of a possible 13 games, but he has found room to make a difference, catching 27 passes for 408 yards and two touchdowns. He's no longer the superstar every defender must find as soon as his team breaks the huddle, but he's liable to make a key play or two per game that can alter the outcome.
Los Angeles will have to limit him, but he's not atop their checklist. Still, the narrative alone makes this worth watching. Add in the potential playoff implications for a Ravens team aiming for the AFC's top seed, and a Rams squad that has fought its way back into the postseason conversation, and you'll get a game worthy of appointment viewing.