Odell Beckham Jr. of the Giants reacts against the Carolina Panthers on Oct. 7, 2018, at Bank of America Stadium on Oct. 7, 2018 in Charlotte, North Carolina.

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Keidel: Beckham's Dehydration Is A Real Problem -- And Easily Avoidable

At A Time When Stars Have Never Been More In Tune With Their Nutrition, It's Odd That OBJ Won't Even Drink Water

Jason Keidel
November 28, 2018 - 11:36 am
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Between advances in training and new rules catered to scoring, it's never been a better time to play offense in the NFL, which seems to stack stratospheric points by the week.  

Add to that the newfound platform of lifestyle brands -- like Tom Brady's TB12 -- which advise how much to sleep, what to wear to bed and how to eat, we see players breaking old-world perceptions of an old athlete. Remove Patrick Mahomes and the list of NFL MVP candidates reads like a flip-phone convention. From Drew Brees to Ben Roethlisberger to Philip Rivers to Brady -- all of whom are over 35 years old -- NFL stars are setting new standards for retirement age. 

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As Brady, Brees and Big Ben are setting new norms, they have credited new nutritional regimens with fueling them as football stars into middle age. 

So with this wealth of wellness invading pro football, it seems odd that a 26-year-old wide receiver can't keep from cramping. He, of course, would be Odell Beckham Jr., who has more than once slithered from the sidelines to get fluids while his comrades are fighting for their football lives. This latest episode, in Philadelphia, arched a few eyebrows because Beckham needed fluids right after halftime, when he had nothing but time to hydrate. 

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It's not as if the Giants were playing in Miami in May or Arizona in August, when the heat or humidity can drop any athlete and drain his limbs of water. It was a post-Thanksgiving game in the Northeast, with temperatures around 50 degrees, hardly the Mojave. 

Had it happened once, we likely wouldn't care, or even notice. But Beckham, who has admitted he doesn't like water and therefore drink enough of it, has planted his flag in the celebrity fishbowl, his social media tentacles poking into every corner of pop culture. And since he's made a point of predicting playoff runs for Big Blue's skeleton crew of a football team, as well as questioning head coach Pat Shurmur's game plan against the Eagles, you wonder why the electric, eccentric wideout can't at least be on the field for all three hours to see it. 

A simple internet search "NFL players eating healthy" will yield a montage of reports from major media outlets, from Fox News to USA Today to Yahoo Sports. Another report from CNBC waxes wellness over the NFL team in Tennessee, declaring that upward of 15 Titans have decided to go all or largely vegan. The twin benefits of plant-based diets are not only the lack of fat and sugar, but also that vegetation is almost entirely water. The same CBNC piece noted that the nutrition bug has bitten some NBA stars, including Kyrie Irving, Damian Lillard, JaVale McGee and Jahlil Okafor. 

Why does that matter? Athletes may seem stone hewn, but in fact adult humans are at least 60 percent water. So the need for fluids should seem self-evident. Especially in the sweaty world of the NFL, where players go through brutal training in summer heat then are asked to play tackle football in late summer and early autumn wearing pounds of pads.

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The sport is so demanding and dehydrating you can't watch an NFL game without noticing some young team gopher sprinting from player to player ready to squirt fluids through their face masks. 

You may say that you can't expect a wide receiver, who runs laps around the most mobile quarterback, to play deep into his 30s. Fine. But we don't see Beckham's peers -- Antonio Brown, Julio Jones or Adam Thielen -- darting to the locker room for an IV. (Not to mention the three aforementioned stars are all older than Beckham.) 

Not only are NFL sidelines stuffed with coaches who have probably advised Beckham on hydration. NFL teams also employ trainers and doctors and offer seminars on proper living, the most basic of which is knowing to drink enough fluids to stay on the field. And it's not as if other Giants players are crawling to the sideline with crippling cramps. 

If we're candid, this was part of the concern the public and pundits had with the Giants giving Beckham his desired money in August. You don't just get an obscenely talented football player. You get a mass of conflicting impulses, the internal struggle between stardom and teamwork. The need to keep water flowing into an NFL player's body is so absurdly obvious. It's clearly not about Beckham's work ethic or resources, but rather his clashing desires to stand out while playing the ultimate team sport, to show off his wild white mane yet still wear a helmet. 

Some of us have argued Beckham is worth it. Even with the headaches and theatrics and me-first proclivities, he is good for business, especially on a 3-8 football club with little else going for it. So it shouldn't shock anyone that Odell Beckham Jr. has self-defeating tendencies. You just hope he has enough sense to drink water on Sundays. 

Follow Jason on Twitter at @JasonKeidel​.