This story has been updated.
The last time Joe Burrow played in a title game, fellow LSU alumnus and current Rams receiver Odell Beckham Jr. was in attendance. Burrow (or Burreaux) helped the Bayou Bengals complete the undefeated season by lifting a national championship over Clemson in Jan. 2020 in New Orleans, about four months before being drafted by the NFL’s Bengals. Beckham wanted to bring a little Mardi Gras into the Superdome in celebration, handing wads of cash to loads of LSU players, including Burrow.
The exuberant Beckham didn’t care about the effects of his actions, and wanted to be flashy, handing out the money 18 months before any state passed name, image and likeness legislation. In Oct. 2020, LSU banned Beckham for two years from its facilities for his distribution of $2,000 worth of $100 bills during that postgame scene. LSU officials stated after the exchange of those Benjamins that the bills were counterfeit, despite the school’s compliance office starting an investigation into the incident. Burrow told the Pardon My Take podcast the money was real.
Not part of that investigation was the iconic shot of Burrow, still in his No. 9 LSU jersey for the final time, with his legs crossed and a fat cigar in his mouth, sitting on a couch, living his best life. Burrow had to wait a lot longer in college than in the NFL to appear in the biggest game possible, as he was part of the 2015 college recruiting class. Instead of winning a national championship 75 minutes from LSU’s campus, he’s tasked with helping take down the Rams from their home stadium.
The scandal was seen as just another mark against Beckham, who has been discarded by two teams despite his all-world talent.
Before joining Los Angeles, Beckham appeared in only one playoff game since leaving Baton Rouge in 2014 — with the New York Giants in 2016.
He’s found a home in LA, as head coach Sean McVay and the team’s leadership say he’s been an ideal fit, as the team’s No. 2 receiver behind Cooper Kupp. Now Beckham and Burrow will be competitors at Super Bowl LVI, with one getting a ludicrously expensive ring and the other just hoping to get another chance to slip it on their finger.
It was only three months ago that Beckham was waived from the Browns after he was excused from two team practices. The reason for his dismissal was over Odell Beckham Sr.’s outrage over his use with the team. The elder Beckham posted a video to Instagram placing blame on his son’s lack of production to that point in the season on Browns’ quarterback Baker Mayfield. Not exactly the most stable thing to bring into a locker room with a team adjusting its roster for a Super Bowl run. The mix of a stable quarterback in Matthew Stafford and not being relied upon for elite-level production every game has calmed him down and given him the best professional fit of his career.
Beckham signed a huge, five-year, $95-million contract extension with the Giants in Aug. 2018, only to be dumped by the team seven months later. His sample size with the Rams is still incredibly small, but their desire to keep him in Los Angeles shows possible maturity for the quickest to reach 100, 150, 200 and 250 receptions in NFL history. Now, he’ll look to add a championship to his resume.
Despite the grandeur of the Super Bowl, it’s possible Beckham could have more on his mind. His partner, Lauren Wood, is due to give birth at any time. Wood announced her pregnancy soon after Beckham signed with the Rams. Los Angeles is optimistic they will re-sign OBJ. After being dumped by two franchises that disregarded his potential and decided removing him from their locker rooms was best for business, the former Giant and Cleveland Brown has found a home in Hollywood.
Dad and Super Bowl champion would make for quite the redemption arc this year for OBJ.
Update: After scoring the game’s first touchdown on a 17-yard pass from Matthew Stafford, Odell Beckham Jr. left the game with a knee injury late in the second quarter.