When wide receiver Dorial Green-Beckham ended his football career at Hillcrest High School in Springfield, Missouri, the world was at his fingertips.
Listed as USA Today and Sports Illustrated‘s No. 1 recruit, Green-Beckham had scores of Division One schools at his doorstep. Not only had Green-Beckham been a standout performer, but he had the perfect build for a wide receiver at 6-5 and 240 pounds, what coaches described as freakish athletic ability, and a knack for making the kinds of catches that wind up on highlight reels.
Green-Beckham opted to stay in his home state, signing with the University of Missouri, and for two years, he was the toast of college football.
During that time, Green-Beckham scored 17 touchdowns and picked up 1,278 receiving yards… and then the bottom fell out and the former No. 1 recruit in the nation began a downward spiral that continued at 2:59 a.m. today when a Missouri Highway Patrol officer arrested him in Greene County for driving while intoxicated.
It was not the first run-in Green-Beckham has had with the law. His inability to stay out of trouble ended his time at the University of Missouri and possibly cost him an opportunity to be an NFL first-round draft choice.
In October 2012, Green-Beckham and three teammates were arrested on marijuana possession charges, which were amended to trespassing through a plea bargain.
While he was at home over the Christmas break in January 2014, the Springfield Police Department arrested Green-Beckham on a felony drug trafficking charge, according to USA Today. Greene County online records no longer show that case, indicating it was dropped.
MU Coach Gary Pinkel suspended Green-Beckham in April 2014 after an incident at a Columbia apartment in which he allegedly entered it without permission looking for his girlfriend and pushed another woman down a flight of stairs, injuring her wrist.
The Columbia Police Department took no action against Green-Beckham, explaining that the woman refused to press charges, saying that she did not want to face harassment from MU football fans.
The police report, which was quoted in a Kansas City Star account of the incident, detailed efforts that were going on behind the scenes to keep the woman from filing charges against Green-Beckham.
The report detailed text messages, including one the woman had after apparently talking with a member of Green-Beckham’s family.
“I’m not sticking up for him, but it’s the rest of his life. He deserves to pay somehow but without football he really does have nothing. He wouldn’t have nothing. He wouldn’t make it in a real job. He’d be (in) the streets and in prison like his brothers.”
Though no charges were filed, the incident marked the end of the line for Green-Beckham at the University of Missouri. Pinkel kicked him off the squad, saying Green-Beckham’s priority needed to be “getting the help he needs,” according to a statement quoted on ESPN.
Beckham-Green transferred to the University of Oklahoma, but never played a down for the Sooners.
Under NCAA rules, Beckham-Green had to sit out one year before he could play for Oklahoma. Instead, he opted to enter the NFL draft where the Tennessee Titans took him as the 40th overall pick in 2015.
As Dorial Beckham-Green’s pro career began, it appeared he had put his earlier problems behind him. As a rookie, Beckham-Green led the Titans with 32 receptions and 549 yards, also scoring four touchdowns.
With a talented young quarterback in Marcus Mariota and a quick, tall, potentially game-breaking wide receiver like Green-Beckham, the future looked bright for the Titans, but the situation was not what it appeared to be.
Rumors of attitude problems and a lack of work ethic dogged Green-Beckham during his one season with the Titans. Coach Mike Mularkey hinted at the problem during an interview with the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
“He’s just got to find a way to come out every day and make the plays that are called his way. That’s got to be every day, and it just hasn’t been that way.”
After one season, Mularkey sent his problem, along with that problem’s still irresistible potential, to the Philadelphia Eagles in a trade.
In his one season with the Eagles, Green-Beckham caught 36 passes for 292 yards and two touchdowns. He was cut in training camp and immediately became the subject on sports talk radio shows and among fans whose teams were needing wide receivers. All of them wondered where Green-Beckham would wind up.
At 24 years of age, still possessing the ability he has always had, with the flashes of excellence that made him a fan’s dream and a coach’s frustration, Dorial Green-Beckham remained unemployed as teams in need of a wide receiver continued to try other options.
Perhaps the most frustrating thing for someone whose career seems in jeopardy at such a young age, the team that cast him aside five months ago, the Philadelphia Eagles, has clinched the No. 1 position in the NFC playoffs.
As for Dorial Green-Beckham, the headlines continue to come, but not the ones he thought he would be making, and the touchdowns are seeming more and more like a dim memory.