BEREA, Ohio — For Odell Beckham Jr., his first trip back to MetLife Stadium not wearing a Giants uniform represents “just another game,” he insisted.
But going up against a Gregg Williams defense Monday night means it will certainly not be.
Beckham unloaded on the new Jets defensive coordinator, who he said coaches his players to make dirty hits, like the one Beckham suffered in the 2017 preseason against the Browns as a member of the Giants. The star wide receiver leaped to catch an 18-yard pass from Eli Manning and was undercut by defensive back Briean Boddy-Calhoun, who leveled his right shoulder against Beckham’s left knee. Beckham’s head also hit the ground hard as a result of the hit, and though he came out of it with only a sprained ankle that forced him to miss the season opener, he believes it led to all of the leg injuries he has had since.
“I had players on this team telling me that’s what he was telling them to do: take me out of the game, and it’s preseason,” Beckham said Thursday. “So you just know who he is. That’s the man who’s calling the plays.
“I had people who were here when he was here telling [them], ‘If you get a chance, take a shot at him. If you can hurt him, I guarantee he’s going to leave the game hurt,’ and stuff like that. It’s fine. It’s football in a sense. But we’re all men out there, so there’s no need for doing any of that kind of stuff.”
Beckham came back and played four games that season before breaking his ankle against the Chargers. Then last season, he suffered a quad injury in Week 12 that ultimately forced him to miss the final four games of his final Giants season. All of it, he believes, stems from the dirty hit in Cleveland.
“That’s exactly what it did,” Beckham said when asked if the first ankle injury led to the second. “I came back too early for my team. I gave them all I had, even though I know I was still three weeks out. I came back probably three weeks too early, just because they lost the first game of the season [that] year and I felt that pressure to do what I can to help the team. So I came back too early on an ankle that was already — if God wouldn’t have blessed me the way that I am, I probably would have blown my knee in that preseason game if I couldn’t have got my foot off the ground. That high ankle sprain led to the broken ankle on the left, which led to compensation in different areas and just kind of like a little spiral.
“It’s something that I’ll never forget. It’s something that changed my life forever.”
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