BEREA, Ohio — Jarvis Landry cried.
Baker Mayfield started screaming.
The subject of the emotions sat between Landry and Mayfield at a podium on Monday: receiver Odell Beckham Jr., whose acquisition via trade electrified the city of Cleveland and the Cleveland Browns. To Beckham, the trade was initially a shock to the system. But once he processed how his life had changed, and once he looked at joining his best friend in the NFL (Landry) and Mayfield and an improving Browns team, Beckham came to embrace it.
“As it all settled in I’m very excited about this and I think it’s going to be one of the best things that ever happened to me in my life,” Beckham said.
He later said the moment “is going to be more iconic than we all realize right now.”
“We’ll look back in 10 years and be like, ‘Man, I remember,’ — what’s today, April 1, 2019 — ‘the start of something great.’ You know. And I’m just happy to be a part of that.”
The happiness was shared by the players who shared the podium with Beckham — Landry, Mayfield and defensive end Myles Garrett.
“I called and talked to him (after the trade was announced),” Mayfield said. “The thing we kept saying is this can’t be real.”
“We never thought that we would be here,” Beckham said.
Landry seemed especially shocked. He had been talking about Beckham joining the Browns since he was acquired via trade a year ago, but only carried it as a hope and never as something that actually might happen.
When it did …
“I mean, I just cried,” Landry said. “I called him (Beckham). I talked to (general manager) John (Dorsey). I cried with John. I cried with (coach) Freddie (Kitchens).”
Landry’s friendship with Beckham goes back to when the two were juniors in high school in Louisiana and met at a football camp. They became close, attended LSU together after Beckham pondered the University of Miami and now are teammates in Cleveland.
“It’s almost like we spoke this into existence,” Beckham said, adding that Landry “made me who I am today.”
Landry’s message to Beckham about the Browns was straightforward, and came a year after he had gone through the emotions of being traded from Miami.
“What I told O is the love and the appreciation of everybody that works in this building, from top to bottom, is something that made me feel so comfortable; you know the way it feels like family here,” Landry said. “And I told him that he would appreciate that. He would appreciate that he could come here and honestly just be himself and people would love him for that.”
Those words — “I love you” — were the first ones used in the greeting that coach Freddie Kitchens gave Beckham when he first saw him.
“Gave him a hug, too,” Kitchens said. “He said he loved me. It was like a love story.”
Kitchens’ greeting came from a quip he made a week ago at the NFL’s annual meetings that took on a life of its own. Because of that he felt obliged to follow through. Kitchens’ excitement is real, but he knows there is a long time before the season.
“Right now, we are just a bunch of good individual players,” Kitchens said. “Yeah, our roster looks great on paper — whoop-dee-hell, all right?”
Beckham will not be with the Browns through the entire offseason program, and Kitchens said he is fine with that. Beckham said he likes to work in Los Angeles, but that he would make an effort to be with his teammates as often as possible to help build camaraderie. He also said it was important to be present for the first day, something his teammates appreciated.
Beckham is well aware, though, of the excitement his acquisition has generated.
“This is … I can’t even put it into words,” Beckham said before he held up the Browns jersey with the No. 13 on it. “This is just a lot and it’s going to be a lot for the city of Cleveland. This is a football town. I’ve heard it’s a football town. I’m looking forward to finding out.”
He also sought the advice of one other well-known Cleveland athlete after the trade: LeBron James, who won a championship with the Cavaliers and now plays for the Lakers.
“He just said you’re going to love it,” Beckham said. “He was like, ‘yeah, you’re going to love it.’ That’s the key word. That’s like my idol, that’s the person I look up to the most. That’s my guy. To see what he did to bring a championship here, I just want to be able to do that same thing.”