“How Do You Even Like Him? How Do You Defend Him?”| Shannon Sharpe Explains His Change of Heart, Mentorship Of Odell Beckham Jr.

(Photo: Getty Images)

Shannon Sharpe has been critical of Odell Beckham Jr. in the past, but as he got to know the Los Angeles Rams wide receiver personally, his feelings changed, and he’s transformed from one of OBJ’s biggest critics to one of his staunchest supporters and admirers.

In fact, when Shannon and his co-host Skip Bayless gave their Super Bowl Predictions on Friday, Sharpe based his selection of the Rams largely on OBJ, known as the X-factor for these playoffs. 

Beckham finally broke out of football purgatory in Cleveland and landed in L.A., just as No. 2 receiver Robert Woods was lost for the season. OBJ stepped right in, and for the first time in years, he’s ballin’ like an All-Pro and smiling again. 

This playoff run has rejuvenated the former LSU receiver, who’s totaled 236 yards and a touchdown in three games.

Despite Beckham’s redemption, Sharpe’s change of heart over the years has really befuddled his co-host Skip Bayless who had this to say on Friday’s episode of “Undisputed.”

“You reside in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. I have the utmost respect for you as a football player because you were a gamer, you were a baller,” Bayless told Sharpe while preparing to take his weekly shot at Beckham Jr. 
You were ‘Big Play Shay’ both in Denver and when you got to Baltimore. When it was time to make a play, you made it. When it was time to lead your team, you were one of the greatest leaders in the history of the game. You and Ray Lewis were sort of side by side leading those Ravens to championship in your year in Baltimore. 
You have winners’ intangibles. So it seems like we have been talking about Odell Beckham Jr. on the show for all six years we’ve done it together. It has tormented me because I can’t figure out why you loved this young man so much. Because it seems to me that everything he’s done has run counter to who you were as a player. 
How do you even like him? How do you defend him? How do you even glorify him, because he’s the flip side of Shannon Sharpe. You were everything to me as a winner that Odell never has been. I don’t trust Odell as a winner. Yet you’ve come completely around on him to the point that you mentor him!” 

Sharpe explained why his respect for OBJ has blossomed over the years despite Beckham’s past transgressions as a diva receiver who was often more charismatic off the field than productive on it.  

“The thing that I love most about guys is maturation. I don’t like it when guys make a mistake, but if guys do things early in their career I’m of the firm belief that changed behavior is the greatest apology. I’ve seen the evolution that Odell has gone through. I see what he WAS in New York, and I see what he became. He owned what he did. He knows that the behavior he displayed in New York was unacceptable.”
Shannon Sharpe says LA Rams wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr.’s maturity is evident and expects him to have a big Super Bowl performance. (Photo/Screenshot/First Take)

Sharpe says it helped that he had a big brother in Sterling Sharpe, who was also Hall of Fame caliber and set an incredibly high standard, while teaching baby bro Shannon how to behave in the game. 

No matter how much Skip tried to discredit OBJ’s current success due to past indiscretions, Sharpe stood by his fellow receiver and went all in on Beckham having a strong influence on Sunday’s Super Bowl, which would be the culmination of a very circuitous route to team and individual success for a guy who is used to dominating the headlines, often for the wrong reasons. 


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JR Gamble joined The Shadow League in 2012. The General Manager of Content & Social Media is in his 25th year of covering sports and culture professionally. He has covered a wide variety of major sports and entertainment topics across different mediums, including radio, newspapers, magazines and national TV. His passion is baseball, the culturing of baseball and preserving and documenting the historically-impactful accomplishments and contributions of African-Americans in baseball.