Landon Donovan talked to reporters before the Thanksgiving holiday about what David Beckham has meant to the LA Galaxy. The early tensions between Beckham and Donovan have been well chronicled in Grant Wahl's book The Beckham Experiment, but Scott French reports that bygones are bygones. Link
"Forget about the soccer part," Donovan told media Tuesday at the Home Depot Center. "I've grown a lot as a person since he's been here, and I've watched him closely with all the things he does and his leadership ability and how he handles himself. It's been an inspiration for me. We haven't always gotten along, especially in the beginning, but he's a good person. And I think we're all very happy for him that he's ready to move on and do whatever comes next."
This week here at the Confidential we've chosen to focus on the soccer part, in part because in the lead up to the cup it seemed important to focus on all the parts around Beckham and view this more as a celebratory farewell and not a mourning period.
However, there's no denying that the Galaxy are going to miss David Beckham the person and celebrity. Beckham has been the face of the franchise domestically and abroad. Hopefully when Donovan talks about learning from the way Beckham handles himself, it means he's prepared to become that type of player; a brand unto himself.
In part because MLS is an adidas league and Beckham is an adidas man, Beckham also became the public face of MLS. It'll be interesting to see if Don Garber has anything further to say in his state of the league address on Monday, as MLS will be losing a key component to its brand.
The BBC wrote a great article about what the Beckham Brand is all about. Like other celebrity brands (think Madonna or Johnny Depp) much of keeping themselves and thus their brand relevant is constant reinvention. When brands stagnate, they lose their potency and thus it makes sense that Beckham has constantly sought a new adventure. Link
"On top of all that, he endures because he's authentic. You can't fake, force or fudge what he does, the way he does it for the length of time that he's done it."
Soccer is a rare sport in that there are so many platforms for greatness. There also could be something to this notion of Beckham as an authentic person. All of his moves have been handled with a since of humility, and prediction of revolutionizing American soccer came from outside it wasn't Beckham hyping himself up.
Compare that to the way Lebron James handles his brand. Sure Miami has been a great place to create his celebrity, but he didn't go in humbly and there was a great backlash against him as a result. Every coaching dismissal gets blamed on Kobe Bryant and his "death stare" now, after the narrative became that Bryant ran Shaquille O'Neal out of town.
So in wrapping up this week of Beckham, congratulations to the man and the soccer player, and good luck on your next venture.