The connection that began on the football field runs so much deeper a decade later.
The reunion of receivers Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry with the Browns is a great football story, as they instantly form one of the league’s top tandems.
The tale reaches another level when their long, close friendship is considered.
“This is my guy,” Beckham said Monday, seated next to Landry at his introductory news conference at team headquarters. “This is everything I ever dreamed of and more. I’m just really excited about the opportunity.
“I can’t lie. I’m looking at it. I feel it, and I think this is the biggest blessing in my entire life, especially being able to be here for him. We used to call each other every single day. I know that this life gets hard. We go through our ups and downs. It’s like I felt I couldn’t be there for him all the time, even if it’s just by a phone call, and now I can really be there. I can be back in his life, and it’s something I prayed for.”
Beckham and Landry grew up in Louisiana. Beckham was born in raised in Baton Rouge and went to high school in New Orleans; Landry was born in Convent and went to Lutcher High.
They met at a 7-on-7 camp in Alabama during high school and became fast friends and eventually best friends. They quickly hatched a plan to attend the same college — LSU was the choice — with the ultimate dream of playing together in the NFL.
A poignant Nike commercial released Monday chronicles their journeys with the tagline “Ready to make history … together.”
Forever!! 🤞🏾 pic.twitter.com/M66UmSBaJC
— Jarvis Juice Landry (@God_Son80) April 1, 2019
Landry was first to arrive in March 2018 after a trade from Miami. Within a couple of months he was publicly lobbying to add Beckham, who was in a contract dispute with the Giants. He signed a five-year, $90 million deal in August, but it kept him in New York for less than a year before Browns general manager John Dorsey pried him away last month.
“I didn’t know for sure if it was possible,” Landry said. “I was hoping in the back of my mind that obviously it would be possible. I kind of got the phone call maybe a little bit before everybody that the trade had went through and I just cried.”
Landry said he cried talking to Dorsey and cried talking to coach Freddie Kitchens. Beckham was in Paris and called Landry after calling his mom, who posed for pictures Monday in Berea wearing a Browns hat and helping her son hold his No. 13 jersey.
“I know for me it’s something that not only as a player but as a person he’s definitely somebody that my life needs,” Landry said. “So it’s more than an honor to take the field with him again.”
Beckham, a three-time Pro Bowler and global superstar, didn’t want out of New York. But if he had to leave, Cleveland with Landry was the choice.
“It would be playing alongside my brother,” Beckham said. “I tell people all the time, he made me who I am today. He’s taken me to a level of this greatness, this legendary stuff that we talked about is because of him. So there’s no better place for me to be but here.”
Dorsey and Giants counterpart Dave Gettleman executed the trade, but Beckham believes he and Landry played a key role.
“I feel like we spoke this into existence almost,” Beckham said. “Him and I dreamed of this. This is something that we talked about at 17, ‘I’m going to live right down the street from you. We’re going to be on the same team,’ everything, and it’s like surreal.”
In three years at LSU, Beckham caught 143 passes for 2,340 yards and 12 touchdowns. In two years with extensive playing time, Landry caught 133 passes for 1,766 yards and 15 touchdowns.
Beckham was the 12th pick of the Giants in 2014, and Landry went 63rd to the Dolphins. Beckham has 390 catches for 5,476 yards and 44 touchdowns in the NFL, and Landry 481, 5,014 and 26 with four trips to the Pro Bowl.
“They will bring the best out of each other and encourage each other and play for Cleveland,” former LSU coach and Elyria High grad Les Miles told The Chronicle-Telegram recently. “They know each other, they know what to expect, they know how hard they work, because they both work extremely hard. And the culture of the locker room will be better.”
Quarterback Baker Mayfield got to know Beckham last year and trained with him in Los Angeles. The idea of passing to him on Sundays certainly crossed his mind.
“I absolutely hoped for that, I wouldn’t necessarily say that we talked about it too much. Thought about it,” Mayfield said. “Throwing to him, just running routes on air, realizing the potential and all the talent that he has, it’s unique. Not many are able to do it.
“So then you put together two LSU Tigers next to each other, it’s a dangerous duo. It’s going to be a lot of fun but it’s something you can only dream about.”
Beckham and Landry have already filled highlight reels with their one-handed catches. Beckham agreed with Miles that Landry started the practice during their time at LSU.
“The reason this all happened is because of him,” Beckham said. “We would sneak into the facility at midnight and go shoot Jugs until 2 in the morning. Then let’s go outside and talk.
“In the middle of the night we’d be outside our room throwing the football back and forth. Him throwing the ball as hard as he can at me. Just got to catch it. The worst throws possible. Got to catch it. All the one-hand stuff, got to catch it. He started it.”