September 27, 2022

Ex-Giants peel back curtain on the real Odell Beckham before Super Bowl 2022

Odell Beckham makes “the catch” against the Cowboys in 2015

That is what Justin Pugh remembers when he thinks back on Odell Beckham Jr. and their shared time together with the Giants.

The spectacular athleticism? Sure. The dyed blonde hair? Of course. The one-of-a-kind catch that turned Odell Beckham Jr. into OBJ? Certainly. But it was a tractor trailer that pulled into the team facility one day, and what it revealed about a certain former teammate — a young, budding superstar — that Pugh thinks back on most of all as Beckham’s revitalization takes center stage with his impending appearance in Super Bowl 2022.

“The whole team got mattresses from Odell,” Pugh told The Post. “I think I might have got three mattresses from Odell. Literally he had an 18-wheeler truck pull up to the practice facility and he was like ‘Hey, anyone that needs a mattress go get it.’ It was a Casper mattress, in a box.

“There were backpacks, there was clothing. Literally everything you could think of he was connected to, he made sure everyone else got something. If you have the fame and that connection and people want to send you stuff to not only get yourself, to get it for the 80-plus guys in the locker room, that goes to show you what type of guy he is. That’s why I think so many of his teammates love him and appreciate him. He leveraged his likeness and his fame to help everybody out in the locker room and that was something I always appreciated about him.

“Those are some of the things that no one will know and I don’t think Odell needs anyone else to know. It was something he just enjoyed doing for the guys and that brotherhood is something that even to this day, when we see each other we still talk about, laugh about and enjoy.”

Pugh, an offensive lineman, was the Giants’ first-round draft pick in 2013, so he knew plenty about pressure and living up to great expectations. The next year, Beckham was the Giants’ first-round selection. They spent four years together. Pugh, like so many Giants players of that timespan, is thrilled that Beckham returned to health, wrangled his way to the Rams and will be lining up with Cooper Kupp and hauling in passes from Matthew Stafford on Sunday against the Bengals at SoFi Stadium.

It was often a push-pull existence for Beckham in his five years with the Giants, flowing hot and cold relations with the media, front office and at times the coaching staff. But by and large, his teammates got a big kick out of him. His career took a downturn after he fractured his ankle early in the 2017 season, and by the end of 2018 he was traded away, sent to the Browns. That did not work out, Beckham tore up his knee in 2020 and did not look like the same player. He forced his way out of Cleveland, was released and headed west, selecting the Rams and fulfilling a longstanding goal to play and live in Los Angeles.

Beckham, healthy and happy, is in the Super Bowl for the first time. At age 29, he and his partner, Lauren Wood, are expecting their first child. It is all looking up for the guy known as OBJ and those who helped break him into the NFL with the Giants could not be happier for him.