I don’t know about you, but I was watching Sunday night when Odell Beckham Jr. scored a touchdown.
Well, actually, he had two touchdowns, but the one that has the Internet in a tizzy was, well, just watch:
Brandon Carr is pretty much tackling Beckham to try to stop him from catching the ball. Does Beckham care? Do wolves concern themselves with sheep? Do gods care about mere mortals? Nope!
As he’s falling down under Carr, Beckham somehow reaches out with one hand and grabs the football with three fingers, staying in bounds and crashing into the end zone.
In practice, Beckham had been messing around and catching footballs with one hand, so it was clear he had the capability, but not with a 210 pound man draped around him.
I was watching it live with my dad. I cheered as the flag came down. My dad looked quizzically at me, “You do realize he caught it, right?” I went back and replayed the catch four times before it finally sunk in.
We spent ninety seconds just saying “Wow” and feeling happy that we drafted Beckham (and yes, I trashed that pick at the time. Don’t remind me).
The announcers were beside themselves trying to put the catch into historical perspective. “This was the greatest catch ever,” one said. The other exclaimed “This was the best catch I’ve ever seen!”
And therein lies the problem with modern journalism. People trip over themselves trying to use the most exclamation points and the most ‘bests’ and ‘greatests’ in an attempt to properly describe the situation.
Journalists, in an attempt to garner page views, come up with over-the-top views, saying things that are at best controversial and at worst blatant falsehoods (that’s Skip Bayless’ whole premise).
This mindset permeates throughout sports. In basketball, LBJ had a 48 point destruction of the Pistons in the playoffs a few years ago. Tripping over themselves to do justice to LeBron’s impressive performance, journalists said things like “MJ was great, but he never had a game like LeBron just did”. Really? Remember Jordan’s famous shrug game against Phoenix in the Finals, when MJ was pissed that people thought that Clyde Drexler was his equal so he went and scored six three pointers in the first half of one game, effectively putting an end to the Jordan-Drexler debate?
It’s a human thing to do. We already had the MJ experience. He took us to unprecedented places. LeBron is a beast, but he has yet to surpass Jordan. However, who wants to do the whole Jordan thing again? We want something new. That’s why we rush to appoint every decent new shooting guard the next MJ.
Heading back to football, was ODB’s catch really better than, say, the Immaculate Reception? Even heading back to more recent history, was Beckham’s catch better than the Helmet Catch? Was it even better than Manningham’s catch a couple of years ago in the Super Bowl? Yeah, it might be, but those catches led to the Giants winning the Super Bowl. The Giants didn’t even win the game!
Instead of pushing out the old to make room for the new, just admire ODB’s catch for what it was: an amazing play made by an incredible athlete.