LONDON -- It’s a foreign country and a different culture. The British view football as a completely different sport than Americans.
It doesn’t matter when it comes to celebrity, however. New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. is a star here, just as he is in the United States. His news conference ended Friday and he was being asked to take pictures as he was whisked out the door.
Fans in England want to see Beckham. There will be close to 80,000 at Twickenham Stadium on Sunday when the Giants play the Los Angeles Rams. Beckham will be the main attraction in an atmosphere that should be unique.
Twickenham is the Lambeau Field or Wrigley Field of rugby. On this fall afternoon, it will be an interesting stage for the National Football League.
“I expect a lot of cheers for everything,” Beckham said. “Hopefully it’s at loud as it is when you have the FIFA (video game) turned all the way up and you score a goal or something.
“I’m definitely looking forward to it. This is exciting for this culture as well. We’re taking steps and we’re moving. I’m sure there’s going to be people that aren’t going to have just the Rams and Giants jerseys on. I’m sure they’ll be supporting whatever team they support. Still, all in all, they’ll be enjoying it. Like I said, I’m looking forward to it.”
Fans will be wearing Beckham jerseys. He has the No. 2-selling jersey currently at NFL Shop Europe (curiously behind Aaron Rodgers). His flamboyance and talent makes him an attraction everywhere he goes.
Beckham knows the deal. He understands that when he scores touchdowns and proposes to the kicking net, it attracts attention. That is his reality.
“It doesn’t bother me. If I ran off the field and didn’t celebrate, it would be something that was written,” Beckham said. “Either way it goes, you have to live life. Enjoy it and have fun. No matter what I do, there’s going to be extra attention. Period.
“If I dyed my hair another color, there would be attention. If I wear some funky shoes, there’s going to be extra attention. It is what it is at this point. You just have to go out and me personally, I have to do the best to not be a distraction to my team. I don’t think they’ve ever felt that way in a sense. Everyone in the locker room knows what it is with me. They know how I feel about them and what I’m willing to do and give to them each and every day. Not just on Sunday.”
This Sunday, Beckham has concerns beyond the cameras following his every move. He said the Rams were a “chippy” team.
The last time they met, in Week 16 of Beckham's rookie season in 2014, that turned into several late hits, with the final one sparking a sideline brawl that prompted several ejections.
Rams coach Jeff Fisher insists his team isn’t intending to get involved in extracurriculars.
“We're going to play between the snap and the whistle and that's it,” he said earlier in the week. “We've got great respect for their players. Odell, he's an outstanding competitor and you just look at what he did in the second half to win that game [against the Ravens last Sunday]. No, we're not going there. Our guys are going to play hard and play fast, tackle and have been instructed not to hurt the football team.”
Just in case, Beckham will be prepared on the international stage. He knows it’s always a possibility that opposing teams will try to get him off his game.
He seems extra cautious not to allow it to affect him with the world watching.
“You have to protect yourself at all times,” Beckham said. “I think that comes down to not just you protecting yourself, but everyone in the game of football. Refs, the NFL, everyone. Everyone has to understand what is at stake. You don’t need stuff like that to happen.
“What happened last time, it just shouldn’t be a big issue. Do expect it. If it’s not there, then it won’t be there. Always stay ready so you don’t have to get ready.”
Beckham’s ready for London. But are they ready for him?