Tweets is Watching – Odell Beckham Jr Catches Football/Collective Imagination of the Internet


Photo by Adam Hunger – USA Today

During the Week 12 Sunday Night Football match between the New York Giants and Dallas Cowboys, Odell Beckham Jr. caught a ball that he had no business catching. He did it after defensive pass interference was committed against him and with the use of only three digits.

I have expressed this sentiment before, but it bears repeating here: Sports are important/super-dope because they are an everyday vehicle through which miracles can be presented to us. It is amazing to watch amazing things happen. Even though football is nothing more than an abstract idea based around an oblong ball and giant men chasing that ball in different directions, it created a universe in which we got to witness Odell Beckham do the impossible, and for that we are undoubtedly #blessed.

The world, and with it the Twitterverse took notice, though many found the feat difficult to put into words.

One photographer was so stunned that, well…

Hey man, I get it. No time for cameras, we’ll use our eyes as lens.

I tried to think of a joke, but very few people laughed.

Others took notice of the schoolyard nature of the catch, and acknowledged that the rest of the game was essentially inconsequential, despite the huge playoff ramifications in the NFC that were at stake.

Cris Collinsworth and Al Michaels, the duo with the responsibility of calling the game and contextualizing the experience for fans across the country, shared in our collective disbelief. They were however, too busy calling the game (that was for some reason still being played despite the fact that Odell Beckham Jr. had just performed peak football) to share their thoughts on Twitter, so I took the liberty of bringing their words to the Internet. My apologies for misspelling “Cris” – it happened in the heat of the moment.

This is a big deal. Al Michaels is not one to rely on superlative when talking about the historic placement of a moment that had just happened in front of his eyes. The dude has seen some things in his almost 40 years in the business. He called the Miracle on Ice. He is the only man who can claim to have been a part of broadcasts for the Olympics, Super Bowl, World Series, Stanley Cup, and NBA Finals. When Al Michaels says a catch is “in the conversation” for the best catch he has ever seen, we should take notice.

To be fair, everyone was taking notice, including other professional athletes that were probably dealing with the fact that Odell had just locked up at least two ESPYs.

While we’re here, can we acknowledge how good LeBron is at managing his social media image? By using the word “witness” James stays on brand and basically equates the best play in sports so far this year with what he does on the court every night. Super smart use of language. Well done.

Meanwhile, non-famous Twitter, now over the original “OMG” that the catch inspired within us, started diving deeper into the net, and found evidence that this feat was not to be unexpected from young Odell.

That’s right. Odell apparently practices finger catches while wearing Beats headphones during pregame. Catching balls with one hand while being contested by a defender is apparently just something he is capable of doing on a regular basis. Twitter, in the natural progression of the Internet, began to create/request photoshops.

Jay Caspian Kang is a writer I enjoy a lot. He is someone I aspire to be more like. He worked for Grantland, where I had attempted to intern this summer, and has since moved on to work for The New Yorker. When writers that I enjoy make requests to the faceless mob that is the Internet collective, I see it as my duty to respond. I keep an eye out for these requests, as I have faith that eventually something good could come if I get the right person’s attention.

This is my internship. This is how I prove that Tweets is Watching.

I immediately got to work. Save the image Kang posted as ballet.png, then screengrab the Odell catch off of Twitter and save it as ODELL.tiff, and then take that image to an online converter to change it to ODELL.png. Next, open up my photo editing program and open both images in it. Use the wand to isolate Odell from the photo as best I can in the moment, cut him out of the original image, and paste him as a new layer on top of the ballet photo. Then resize and export as ODELLballet.png. The entirety of this process took approximately nine minutes. This was my resulting image:


I’m pretty proud of it. It could be better, as I did not entirely isolate Odell from the original image as thus he has a bit of dark space inexplicably floating behind him. But as my first foray into Photoshop rush-jobs, I saw it as a success. I raced to refresh my Twitter feed, and was met with this:

Heavy sigh. I was beaten by seconds. Maybe if I had just saved the image as O.png instead of spelling out his name, I would have been the first one to answer Kang’s call. I tweeted my surrender, still proud that I fought the good fight.

Jay Caspian Kang gave me a favorite, and a reply of gratitude complimenting my effort. That helped numb the pain a bit. Sure, I didn’t get a RT from Kang, which probably could have led to a social media upswing in terms of followers, RTs, and the Internet paying slightly more attention to me for at least the next 24 hours. But that was fine; I didn’t need to be a hero, I just wanted Kang to know that I, Tyler Lauletta, am a member of the Internet and am here to help. I think he got that, so really it was a win.

Until my good friend Westlake tweeted me.

SB Nation had collected Odell photoshops from around the Internet and posted them for the world to see. SB Nation is another group that I would very much enjoy working for. In their collection, they embedded the work of @nick_pants and others. In one of their tweets, Nick’s image was the lead.

I knew this was going to happen. I told my friend Ray, who was watching the game with me and was extremely patient as I stared into my computer screen making memes, that my exercise was futile. I joked that BleacherReport probably already had a list up of “The 8 Greatest Edits of Odell Beckham Jr’s Monster Catch.”

SB Nation, Bleacher Report, Sports Illustrated, and others took to Twitter, found the edits, and posted them for their audiences. Had I been a little quicker on the Internet trigger, it is possible that I could have been a larger part of the wonder that Odell inspired in all of us that day.

It’s okay though. I’m not mad. I am excited. I like to think that this proves I am close. I am on the cusp of helping to lead the Internet conversation when something amazing happens in the world of sports. It would have been cool if a ton of people saw something that I put together in ten minutes on Photoshop, but it’s probably better this way. Next time, I will be better at editing photos and make sure that I rely on my own mind to start working instead of waiting for another writer to fire the starting gun of my creativity.

I am learning.

Plus, there were TONS more Odell edits, all of them fun. Here are some of my personal favorites.

And to his great credit, @nick_pants is a genius. I aspire to bring my Photoshop game up to his level.

Overall, it was a good day for Twitter, football fans, and Odell Beckham Jr. We all got to share in that particular type of joyous astonishment that only sports can engender within us. For a moment we all were experiencing the same thing, and attempting to cope with the new reality that we were presented with, a reality in which Odell Beckham Jr. is capable of catching anything, anywhere, at any time.

Yet as many of us experienced this excitement from our homes, staring into screens or craning our necks down as we scrolled through our constantly refreshing feeds, there were some who were on the ground at MetLife stadium, doing their real job. If you only click on one link this entire article, make it this one:

Thank you to the New York Times for telling these great stories. It is comforting to know that you have a handle on contacting other human beings and communicating with them in phrases longer than 140 characters. It gives me the freedom to stay here on the Internet and bring critical thought to the tweets of the masses. Thanks to you, NYT, I can stay doing my job.

Thanks to you, Tweets is Watching.

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