BEREA, Ohio — Odell Beckham Jr. accused New York Jets defensive coordinator Gregg Williams of teaching “cheap shots” and “dirty hits,” and he said that led to an ankle injury that almost derailed his career two years ago.
“If I was a coach, I would never teach what he teaches,” said the star wide receiver, whose Cleveland Browns face the Jets next on Monday Night Football. “But that’s just him and what he does.”
In a preseason game two years ago, when Beckham was with the New York Giants and Williams was Cleveland’s defensive coordinator, Beckham sprained his ankle after being undercut by Browns cornerback Briean Boddy-Calhoun, who drove his shoulder and helmet into the receiver’s left leg. Beckham’s legs flipped into the air and he banged his head on the turf.
Beckham said he tried to come back from that injury too soon and ultimately broke his ankle, knocking him out for the season. Beckham believes the initial Boddy-Calhoun hit eventually led to the broken ankle, and he attributed subsequent injuries, including a torn quadriceps muscle last year, to it.
“I came back too early for my team,” he said. “I gave them all I had even though I know I was three weeks out. I probably came back three weeks too early because [the Giants] lost the first game of the season [that] year and I felt the pressure to be able to come out there and do what I can to help the team. I just came back too early.
“If God hadn’t blessed me the way that I am, I probably would’ve blown out my knee in that preseason game. And that high ankle sprain led to the broken ankle on the left, which led to compensation in many different areas. It was kinda like a little spiral. So it’s something that I never forget. It changed my life forever.”
Beckham said that according to his Cleveland defensive teammates, Williams, who eventually became Cleveland’s interim head coach last year before taking a job with the Jets, actually told the Browns players to try to hurt Beckham during that 2017 preseason game.
“I had people who were here when he was here telling [them], ‘If you get a chance, take a shot at him. If you can, hurt him. I guarantee he’s going to leave the game hurt,’ and stuff like that,” Beckham said. “We’re all men out here. There’s no need for doing any of that kind of stuff. Make the plays the best you can clean.”
Boddy-Calhoun denied Beckham’s claims.
“He was not telling us to hurt people on purpose,” Boddy-Calhoun said of Williams. “He wanted us to play physical, and that was it.”
Boddy-Calhoun said he was unaware of Beckham’s comments until reached by The Athletic on Thursday night.
The NFL suspended Williams for one season for his role in the infamous “Bountygate” scandal in which the New Orleans Saints were found to have operated a bounty system whereby players were paid bonuses for hard hits and deliberately injuring players.