Odell Beckham Jr. crafted a long list of accomplishments in his extraordinary rookie season, but none was as memorable as becoming the first person in history to set the internet on fire while falling backwards.
The Giants’ record-setting wide receiver achieved that singular distinction on Nov. 23 in MetLife Stadium against the Dallas Cowboys. On the first play of the second quarter, the Giants had a first down on the Dallas 43-yard line. Eli Manning took the snap and retreated to the Giants’ 48, where he threw a long pass down the right sideline.
Beckham was mugged by cornerback Brandon Carr but managed to leap back, throw up his right arm and somehow, someway, secure the ball with only three fingers.
The instant reaction was disbelief, as 82,500 fans in attendance and tens of millions watching NBC’s national telecast of the Sunday night game collectively asked, “Did he just do that?”
Yes, he did. Beckham made what was instantly considered perhaps the greatest catch in NFL history, primarily rivaled by David Tyree’s famous helmet grab in Super Bowl XLII. Within seconds, analyst Cris Collinsworth – a former eight-year NFL wide receiver whose 417 career catches did not include one nearly as spectacular, said, “That may be the greatest catch I've ever seen. You have to be kidding me! That is impossible. That is absolutely impossible what he just did.”
Seemingly, the entire country agreed. Millions chimed in, taking their cue from Victor Cruz and the King himself, LeBron James, one of the most famous athletes on the planet. But it didn’t end there.
Shortly after “The Catch,” his Cleveland Cavaliers were in Manhattan for a game against the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden, so the world’s greatest basketball player invited the NFL’s most dynamic young receiver to dine together at the Manhattan restaurant "Carbone."
Beckham dines with NBA superstar LeBron James in NYC after making "The Catch".
Odell sits courtside at the Knicks vs. Cavaliers game at Madison Square Garden.
“Just to be able to meet him and to be able to talk to him and him being able to share some words was a good time.”
It’s easy to guess one topic of conversation at the dinner table.
“He talked about the play and wanted to see how big my hand was,” Beckham said.
“For that to be my favorite athlete and to be able to sit down as civilized people and have dinner and conversation, it was nice.”
If that weren’t enough, King James had Beckham sit courtside as his guest for the game at “The World’s Most Famous Arena.” But then Beckham really had to pinch himself when the icon of all sports icons reached out a few weeks later.
NBA legend Michael Jordan, the face of the Nike brand, which includes Beckham, struck up a conversation via text messages. The two discussed what it takes to get to Jordan’s level on the field – or court – of play and beyond.
The fire spread beyond the football world as NBA and Major League Baseball players, and celebrities in other fields, all concurred that Beckham had performed a feat never before seen on an athletic field. The list included Elizabeth Banks, Matt Lauer, Josh Elliot, John Cusack, Bryce Harper and American League MVP Mike Trout.
Soon the memes began to appear, as the image of Beckham bending backward was photoshopped into dozens of photos, some of them truly hysterical. There was Beckham catching an errant first pitch at a Chicago Cubs game. He was suddenly in the movie, “Dirty Dancing,” posing with Kim Kardashian or dancing with a troupe of ballerinas. Beckham even appeared on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, his outstretched hand taking its place in the Creation of Adam.
It seemed that only those who know Beckham best were unimpressed with his catch. Tennessee Titans quarterback Zack Mettenberger, who threw passes to Beckham at LSU, said, “He's had better,” while noting Beckham routinely caught passes with just one hand in college. “If you could get your hands on some of the practice film from LSU, you would see what I'm talking about,” Mettenberger said.
Beckham was mildly enthralled with his miracle catch, but expects to top it in the future.