By: Monte Perez
When I was a college basketball coach I was fortunate enough to see LeBron James play a high school game live, in Trenton New Jersey. James played a nationally ranked team and scored 50 points. He could have scored 75! To this day, it was the most dominating performance I have ever seen at any level (High School, College or Pro). After the game I told another coach, “That is the greatest, most complete basketball player on the planet.” We got into an argument on the car ride home. His rebuttal to my statement was, “You can’t say that until he plays in the NBA.” I knew what I saw, and I stand by that statement to this very day. LeBron never took a bad shot, was double and tripled teamed all game long and he still dominated like he was playing 8th graders. His skill set was off the charts.
One of the great things about Sports Talk Radio is that fans get to debate legendary players. I very rarely bring up the Greatest of All -Time in arguments. To me, it is impossible to compare athletes in other eras. For example: Fran Tarkenton went to 4 Super Bowls with the Minnesota Vikings. He would be Johnny Manziel now (6’0 190lbs). I have only brought up the Greatest of All- Time argument, two times before in my broadcasting career. The first time was when Mark Jackson was still coaching the Golden State Warriors. I wrote, “The Curious Case of Stephen Curry… Is He The Greatest PG of All-time?”
The other time was right before Marcus Mariota’s junior year, the article was titled, “Anatomy of the Perfect Quarterback… Marcus Mariota the Greatest College Quarterback Ever.”
I have written over 300 articles over the past two years. I don’t use the term “GOAT”haphazardly. When I watch Odell Beckham Jr. play, I feel the same way I did when I saw LeBron for the first time. He has the” stuff” legends are made of.
Whether you are a casual or die-hard football fan, everyone has seen OBJ one handed catches. Almost every week he becomes a human highlight reel. But unlike young athletes of the past and present (Andre Agassi and Johnny Manziel) Image is not everything.
OBJ is all about substance not material. New York is the media capital of the world, you haven’t seen one of the field picture or issue with OBJ. He just set the NFL record for most catches in his first two seasons (169 receptions)… he did this in 24 games. Let us compare that with a few all-time greats of the past and of today.
Odell Beckham Jr. (NYG) 24 Games, 169 receptions, 2,459 yards and 22 touchdowns.
Jerry Rice (SF) 32 Games, 135 receptions, 2,497 yards and 18 touchdowns.
Randy Moss (MN) 32 Games, 149 receptions, 2,726 yards and 28 touchdowns.
Michael Irvin (DAL) 20 Games, 58 receptions, 1,032 yards and 7 touchdowns.
Antonio Brown (PITT) 25 Games, 85 receptions, 1,275 yards and 2 touchdowns.
Please Note: OBJ still has 4 more games to add to these legendary numbers.
What has been so amazing about OBJ accomplishments is that he has done all this without a running game and without another WR or TE on his roster that is even average. Victor Cruz has been injured for two years and the Giants don’t have one WR on their roster that would be a number 2 option on any other team. OBJ is getting double and triple teamed every week. Teams game plan their whole defensive strategy around him and he still can’t be stopped. We are witnessing not only one of the greatest New York Giants of all-time but one of the greatest NFL WR’s of all-time. At 23 years old he has become a deep threat and someone you can rely on to go over the middle. He has already become a great route runner. He can play wide out or slot receiver. If the Giants had a running game or one other competent wide out, his numbers would go up. Teams wouldn’t be able to focus all of their attention on him. He is beating the best of the best right now. There are so many talented offensive players in the NFL, Quarterbacks get all the praise and rightly so, but there is not one skill player that is more important to his team than OBJ. His skill set, work ethic and professionalism is something legends are made of.
There are several “haters” when it comes to OBJ but if you watch him play and listen to him do interviews… he is beyond humble and respectful towards every player in the NFL. He is mature beyond his years and you can reserve a place in Canton, Ohio for him (home of the NFL Hall of Fame). If he stays healthy, he will be in the conversation with Jerry Rice and Randy Moss.