Receiver Odell Beckham Jr. tore his ACL in Super Bowl LVI. Unless he didn’t.
As Beckham tells it, the failure of the new ACL he received after tearing it during the 2020 season against the Bengals in Cincinnati didn’t happen against the Bengals in L.A.
Beckham has disclosed on Twitter that he “really played the whole back half of the season without an ACL, and won a Super Bowl!”
If true, this means the injury happened during the 2021 regular season, presumably at the midpoint of it. And it invites speculation as to whether it happened when he was with the Browns or when he was with the Rams.
If it happened with the Browns, how did he pass the exit physical in Cleveland? How did he pass the entry physical in L.A.?
The truth is that those examinations usually don’t entail a full-blown MRI unless there’s a reason for it. If Beckham’s knee was sufficiently stable when checked manually (if it was even checked manually), there would be no reason to examine whether the ACL had or hadn’t torn.
It also means that, against the Bengals in Super Bowl LVI, the knee suddenly lost stability when he cut on the artificial surface at SoFi Stadium, causing things to abruptly and painfully move around and making it impossible for him to continue.
He has since had surgery to repair the ACL for a second time. And he continues to wait for his next team in large part because no one has been willing to roll the dice on the possibility that he won’t be ready to play until late in the regular season. The last time he had the same injury repaired, 11 months passed before he was cleared.
The Rams continue to claim that they want him. The longer they wait, however, the greater the chance some other team that could benefit from his presence and his skills may try to swoop in and snatch him. I’m watching the Buccaneers (given the longstanding mutual admiration between OBJ and TB12), the Vikings (where former Rams offensive coordinator Kevin O’Connell is now the head coach), the Packers (based on their obvious need at the position), the Bills (could you imagine Beckham in that offense?), the Chiefs (with Tyreek Hill gone, there’s receiver who commands extra attention), the Patriots (they were quietly in the hunt for him last year), and the Bengals (OBJ with Joe Burrow, Ja’Marr Chase, and Tee Higgins would be something to behold).
Typically, the Super Bowl winner has to worry about being raided for its free agents. It happened with Von Miller. It hasn’t happened with Beckham. It still could. Really, why isn’t one of the other NFC contenders eyeing Beckham not just for what he could do for them, but for what his absence would mean to the Rams?
Sure, they were fine without him after his injury in the Super Bowl. But he was the best offensive player on the field before the injury. That game wouldn’t have been as close as it was if Beckham had been there for the full 60 minutes, and Beckham would have been able to say not just that he won a Super Bowl without an ACL, but that he won the Super Bowl MVP award without one.