Up Next

Odell Beckham Jr.

Is Odell the greatest receiver of all time?

The catch that didn’t break him

Odell keeps showin’ out, so I guess I’ll keep writing. I know what you’re thinking though: He broke a record and now we’re saying he’s the best wideout the league has witnessed? But before we all turn up about the headline and I lose my credibility, let me make one thing clear. I do not believe Odell Beckham Jr. is the greatest wide receiver the NFL has ever seen … yet.

He may be well on his way, however.

Becoming the fastest player to ink 3,500 receiving yards in the record books did not lead me to this conclusion. Being the fastest to 200 receptions didn’t do it, either. It wasn’t because he is the only player in NFL history who has had four consecutive games with 130 or more receiving yards. Was it because he is the only player in NFL history with 75 or more receptions in his first 11 games? Nah.

To be honest, I didn’t think he was going to make much of a ruckus when he first entered the league to play for the New York Giants. When you look at some of the greatest receivers who have ever stepped on a football field — Art Monk, Jerry Rice, Randy Moss, Michael Irvin, Calvin Johnson, Larry Fitzgerald — it’s hard to throw around the “G” word, let alone be in the same club as these guys so early in his career.

But to my surprise, the noise Beckham has created on the field is way louder than I expected.

How at 24, am I putting Odell Beckham Jr. and greatest wide receiver of all time in the same sentence?

Well, because this boy is bad (you know, the good kind).

Let’s rewind to one particular Sunday night. It was Nov. 23, 2014. The scene is a beautiful night at MetLife Stadium with the Giants up 7-3 against the Dallas Cowboys in the second quarter.

With Dallas cornerback Brandon Carr in single coverage, the ball is snapped and Beckham takes his route down the sideline. Eli Manning throws the ball in Beckham’s direction to what looked like a pass-interference call waiting to happen. But to all of our amazement, as the ball begins to drop from the sky, this dude jumped back like tomorrow wasn’t coming and brought the ball down for six.

Cliché or not, my jaw dropped to my stomach. That was arguably the greatest catch I have witnessed live. Beckham became an overnight sensation. People couldn’t stop talking about that catch. It’s hard to remember that the Giants lost the game.

But I just knew it was all downhill from there. With that one-handed catch, he had reached the height of his career and celebrity. He was a one-hit wonder like the Baha Men or Peter Gunz.

It was a fluke. No way was it humanly possible that he could make that catch twice.

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ – DECEMBER 14 : New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham (13) makes a touchdown catch that was called back on a holding penalty as Washington Redskins cornerback Bashaud Breeland (26) tries to defend during the fourth quarter in a game between the Washington Redskins and New York Giants at MetLife Stadium on December 14, 2014 in East Rutherford, NJ. New York beat Washington 24-13.

Ricky Carioti/The Washington Post via Getty Images

But, oh, did he prove me wrong. He hit me with a similar touchdown catch against the Washington Redskins. Then the one when he snatched the ball in the middle of the field against the New York Jets like he was Spider-Man.

There was also the one when his toes grazed the end zone and out of bounds against the Miami Dolphins. Oh, yeah, and I can’t forget about him ballin’ out of control on Sunday against the Cincinnati Bengals. I could go on and on.

The point is, he kept doing it. He kept making great plays, proving his God-given talents to the world over and over and over and over again.

A wise man and Hall of Famer Darrell Green once told me “to be great is to do something at a high level on a consistent basis.”

It’s nice to have a good game here and there. Make an incredible play and then people forget about you. But somehow, some way, Beckham continues to make himself relevant on the football field. Or I wouldn’t be writing this.

His career has been filled with consistent flashes of greatness, which has made me think maybe I’m not irresponsible when I put “greatest” and Odell in the same sentence.

He may not be the greatest of all time just yet, but he is making it harder and harder not to slide him into that conversation.

Kayla Johnson is an associate editor for the ESPN social brand. She is an avid Kobe fan and may consider retirement if given the chance to interview him one day.