STRONGSVILLE, Ohio -- A sea of more than 650 kids zig-zagged around the sun-splashed field Tuesday at Pat Catan Stadium, many with hair inspired by Odell Beckham Jr.
Their blond, curly locks bounced as they participated in drills and games of touch football. One of the campers even played much like Beckham, laying out for a touchdown grab late in a close game.
There, too, was Beckham, participating with the droves of youth football players who signed up to learn from one of the game's best receivers. He threw touchdown passes, ran sprints, danced, high-fived, hugged and even covered campers in one-on-one drills. Everything seemed normal -- except for Beckham's hair.
The receiver with the meticulously groomed and incredibly popular hair -- so well-kept, he made sure in May to do all of his media day shots without his helmet before finally putting it on -- was missing the floppy, golden curls.
"I don't know what's going to happen with the hair but I just wanted a fresh start," Beckham explained Tuesday. "I feel a little lighter. It honestly was just a fresh start. You're not defined by anything. I'm just comfortable with who I am. We'll see what happens, there might be some blond going back in there. There's a lot of kids who want it, so I guess if it's requested, I might have go back to it."
Beckham got his hair trimmed before the ESPY Awards in Los Angeles earlier this month, his first debut of a look reminiscent of his college days at LSU. Perhaps it wasn't a coincidence that he returned to such an appearance, considering he's reuniting with former LSU teammate Jarvis Landry in Cleveland.
More important than the reunion, though, is the aforementioned fresh start, which begins Wednesday. Beckham ended his own offseason by spending the final day before training camp with hundreds of his newest and biggest fans. He'll spend the following months making thousands more with his actions on NFL fields.
Though a parent attended the camp Tuesday wearing a blue Beckham Giants jersey, the new fans of the star receiver will be wearing much more brown and orange than blue and red. That will be a welcome sight to Beckham, who has for the last four months been asked seemingly endless questions about his sudden break-up with the team that selected him back in 2014.
"I hope so," Beckham said when asked if he'll be able to move on from his time with the Giants. "The only time that I talk about it is when I get asked about it. So it's hard. It's like a -- I don't even know the word for it -- it's like a double-edged sword. Like, I don't want to talk about it. But if I get asked about it, I feel like I have to answer the question. I'm really ready to put it all behind me. Everybody's moved on. I've moved on, they've moved on. It's just time. This is where I'm at. I'm at the Cleveland Browns now. This is my team and I'm excited about that."
If Tuesday was any indication, Cleveland and the hundreds of thousands of Browns fans are excited about it, too. Now, they just want camp to begin. Beckham and his teammates do, too, because the wideout needs to make some friends outside of No. 80.
"I've got to learn everybody," Beckham said. "It's always been something that I've had, a relationship. When we start training camp, there's 90, 100 of us. I build a relationship with anybody who's around. I'm going to say what's up to anybody who's in that locker room. So my first camp, I really just want to be able to come out, set the ground work, have a great, hard camp. We're all going to have our battles and stuff like that but to really get prepared for this season because I know it's gonna be a grind. And it's gonna be a journey."
That journey starts Wednesday with check-in day and Thursday, the first open practice of training camp. Capacity crowds are expected for every practice in Berea as the team begins its voyage toward the regular season.
"I'm excited to be part of the excitement," Beckham said. ... "I feel like it's just been on a come up. It's just that time and I just want to be able to give absolutely everything I have and see where we land."
We'll answer that last question near the close of 2019. Perhaps Beckham will again be a blond by then.