BEREA — Odell Beckham Jr. cherishes his pregame and postgame talks with Patriots coach Bill Belichick. He called quarterback Tom Brady the greatest of all time, said “he’s not human” and has tried to learn his secret formula.
Beckham has the utmost respect for the New England Patriots and gushed over them Wednesday.
“That was always a dream of mine to play for Tom Brady and Belichick,” he said, referencing speculation from a couple of years ago he would wind up in New England. “I was willing and ready to go over there at any point in time.”
Beckham never became a free agent during his five years with the Giants and was traded to the Browns in March. After he arrived in Cleveland, he told GQ Magazine he wanted to turn the Browns into the “new Patriots” by bringing as many championships as possible.
“When I said I want to turn this into the Patriots organization, it’s about winning, but it’s about the way they go about it,” Beckham said. “How everything is precise and everything is just perfect. It feels good to win, it feels good to succeed and that’s what I meant by wanting to be like them. I don’t know how to be like them because I’ve never been over there, I’ve never experienced any of it.”
Instead of joining Brady, Beckham is linked with Baker Mayfield.
“Tom and I talked for two or three years like, ‘If it happens, it happens and it would be cool.’ But now I’m with somebody who I think is going to be a guy who plays for however long he’s going to play for,” Beckham said. “Right now it’s about us establishing a connection and being a better team, just coming together.
“We’re a 2-4 team, but I don’t think anybody in here feels like it. It’s just time to have a sense of urgency.”
The Browns are 13-point underdogs as they head to New England on Sunday to face the 7-0 Patriots and their top-ranked defense. Despite being 2½ games behind the Baltimore Ravens (5-2) in the AFC North, the Browns players believe they can still achieve their goals, including winning the division.
An upset of the defending Super Bowl champion Patriots could fuel a second-half run.
“We all want to win every single game, but a win in New England would be huge,” Beckham said. “We’re going down there to win, we’re preparing to win, there’s no way around it. It’s not going to feel good if we lose and we had a good loss. It’s about winning. You have to be better than the Patriots this Sunday.”
Beckham knows it won’t be easy. He so admires the 42-year-old Brady that he had a pair of goat hair cleats specially made to give to him Sunday because he considers Brady the GOAT — greatest of all time.
“I know we’ve done some goat cloning, and I think there’s something going on. He’s not human that he’s playing the way he’s still playing,” Beckham said. “He’s the best to ever do it. I don’t think anybody can really argue it. He’s just the greatest, and I definitely want some of the water that he’s drinking.”
He’s attempted to pry the secret recipe from Brady.
“I have tried to pick his brain a little bit and he just always talks about his preparation for the game and how he approaches each and every game,” Beckham said. “And you go out there and you see it, the sh–’s perfect. If he makes a mistake, he’s coming right back. He’s got it down. He’s the greatest.”
Beckham has played the Patriots a couple of times, including in the preseason, and said he and Belichick have a routine.
“He tells me the same thing every single time, ‘I hope you enjoy today because there’s not going to be much for you,’” Beckham said. “There’s nothing but I think mutual respect on both ends. He’s just a guy who I have nothing but love for him. So the conversation’s cool, just to be able to sit and listen to one of the greatest coaches of all time.”
Beckham, who’s coming off six catches for 101 yards in the loss to the Seahawks before the bye, could be matched up against two-time Pro Bowl cornerback Stephon Gilmore. He has three interceptions, a touchdown and nine passes defensed, and Beckham ranked him in the top two or three corners in the league.
Mayfield expects Gilmore to be assigned to Beckham.
“His eyes are always in the right place,” Mayfield said of Gilmore. “I think you combine that with his ball skills when the ball is in the air, he catches everything that comes his way and defends it well.”
Beckham said after the Seahawks game he had let down the team previously by not always bringing enough energy.
“I still have the same mentality, still want to go in there and give this team everything I have,” he said. “We all have our own internal battles to fight and let go, so it’s just something that I was dealing with and it’s like not bringing your sword to a fight, like I never want to leave home without it. Or bring just a shield.
“So it’s definitely time for me to be more for this team, do more for this team, whatever it is we need to do.”