Odell Beckham Jr. wants so badly to be a champion, his closest brush with hoisting a trophy is still seared into his memory -- from a middle-school basketball game.
Beckham recalled his devastating loss in his sixth grade championship game while speaking to reporters after the Browns' second minicamp practice Wednesday in Berea.
"We were playing Stuart Hall, and they hit a buzzer-beater," Beckham recounted from his days growing up in New Orleans. "And there was 1.8 seconds left and I caught it and threw up a half-court shot. The ref already thought it was over and I made it and I'm running around like I won the championship. It felt great. And they called it off, they told me it was no good and I remember crying that entire night.
"I want to win. I want to be a champion."
Beckham had another chance to bring home a much more prestigious trophy in the 2012 BCS National Championship Game, but his LSU Tigers were shut out by a defensively dominant Alabama team that featured five future first-round picks and a second-round pick just on one side of the ball. Beckham was LSU's leading receiver in that game with five catches for 38 yards in a 21-0 defeat.
He also got a taste of what it might take to win one at his current level when he reached the wild card round of the NFL playoffs with the New York Giants in 2016. That season ended in a loss to Green Bay and now seems like ages ago. Beckham hasn't had a chance to make a real run at a trophy since.
He's hoping that changes with his new team in Cleveland, and so far, he's liking what he's seeing.
"Words don't even really do it justice for being out here and just knowing. I'm almost giddy," Beckham said. "I feel like a little kid, the excitement that I have, seeing Baker (Mayfield), seeing these guys. ... I feel like this team's really going to come together but I'm beyond excited about an opportunity I have to just start over. A new team. Obviously the goal is always going to be the same, it's to hang banners, that's what you play this game for. But we know we got a lot of expectations, we know we got a lot of work to do and I think we'll get there."
Beckham spent just one day on the field in Berea with the Browns, the very first day of organized team activities in May, before this week, so his presence is still new for everyone involved. The cameras follow, the footwear is worth checking and seemingly always changing (he wore two different pairs of cleats in Wednesday's session alone) and the tinted visor is always on point, but what wasn't yet perfect was the timing between he and Mayfield on Tuesday. That's to be expected for two extremely talented but new teammates who also seem to be quick studies.
It improved Wednesday, which was encouraging to see. It's also just a small dose of what's to come.
"It's different. This is a different atmosphere, different energy that we have," Beckham said. "Like you said, we're all a bunch of young guys who are hungry and we all speak about greatness and talk about legacy and legendary and it's something that's all within us. Just finding ways to bring that out.
"I'm excited to be back with my brother (Jarvis Landry) first and foremost. I know I've talked about it before but it's still surreal. Like I sit next to him in a meeting and I just look over and like I just pat him, you know what I mean, tell him I love him. It's just crazy. I don't even know how to describe it. The chances of you making the NFL are already so slim. And then the chances of you being on the same team, like I said this before, we talked about having a house next to each other, being neighbors, all that and now it's finally here.
"I think we're all excited about the opportunity. We've got some big plans ahead, just day by day, get 1 percent better and keep it moving."
Wednesday's practice was moving at what seemed like near breakneck speeds at times. The intensity of the sessions have ramped up from OTAs to minicamp, and even a bit more from Day 1 to 2. It's clear that this team is loaded with competitors who won't slow up just because it's June; roster spots are still on the line.
There's a thought that has been floated that such competition could spill over into the season and the stat book. With only one ball to go around for so many talented athletes, might one or two of the pass-catchers find themselves frustrated?
Beckham quelled such concern Wednesday.
"This game is about winning," Beckham said. "I know some of us get stuck up on numbers but this game is about winning. I'd much rather be in the playoffs than go for 1,200 yards and 10 touchdowns. Because to me, I'm supposed to do that anyway. Being at home and having to end the season with that is never going to be good enough for me. I'm ready to get back to the playoffs and show what I can do."
It was a genuine statement that came from a player so bent on team success, he's still not over what happened to him on the hardwood well before he was old enough to drive a car. He's hoping this new chapter brought upon him is the one in which he can finally secure the elusive championship.
"I really feel it. I feel something in the air," Beckham said. "Something special that Cleveland hasn't had for a while and I'm happy to be a part of that."