Free agent NFL wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. was escorted off a plane by police at Miami International Airport on Sunday morning following an incident prior to departure.
The Miami-Dade Police Department said officers responded to a "medical emergency" involving Beckham Jr. on an American Airlines flight headed for Los Angeles.
Beckham Jr. "appeared to be coming in and out of consciousness" when the flight crew tried to wake him up to fasten his seat belt, police said. The flight attendants contacted police and fire rescue over fears Beckham Jr. was "seriously ill" and that his "condition would worsen" over the course of the flight.
Police said Beckham Jr. initially refused "several requests" from the flight crew to exit the plane. After the aircraft was deplaned, officers asked Beckham to exit the plane and he "did so without incident," police said.
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Beckham Jr. was not cited or detained for the incident, according to police.
American Airlines released the following statement: "American Airlines flight 1228, with service from Miami (MIA) to Los Angeles (LAX), returned to the gate before takeoff due to a customer failing to follow crew member instructions and refusing to fasten their seatbelt. The customer was removed and the flight re-departed at 10:45 a.m. local time."
Daniel Davilier, Beckham Jr.'s attorney, called the incident "unnecessary," claiming the wideout was awoken by a flight attendant after the plane had returned to the gate and was informed that he needed to exit the aircraft for not having his seat belt on. Beckham Jr. responded that he would put on his seat belt at that time but was told by the flight attendant it was "too late," according to Davilier.
"Earlier today, Odell Beckham Jr. boarded a morning flight in Miami without any problems," Davilier said in a statement, via NFL Network's Ian Rapoport. "The flight was delayed after boarding and prior to takeoff. Mr. Beckham fell asleep with his blanket over his head, which is his normal practice for long flights. He was [awakened] and told that the plane was back at the gate and that he needed to get off the plane because he did not put his seat belt on when asked. He responded that he was asleep, and that he would put his seat belt on at that time. He was informed that it was too late, and that either he would have to get off the plane or everyone would have to deplane.
"The overzealous flight attendant insisted on removing everyone from the plane instead of simply allowing Mr. Beckham to fasten his seat belt and proceed with the flight. At no time was Mr. Beckham disruptive or combative. He was willing to comply with the seat belt requirement, but the flight attendant wanted to prove that he had the authority to have Mr. Beckham removed from the flight. The airline proceeded to send Mr. Beckham's luggage to Los Angeles without him.
"That incident was unnecessary. Sleeping on a plane should not be a cause for removal from a flight. If they could wake him up when the flight returned to the game, then they could have done the same thing to ask him to put on his seat belt."
Beckham Jr. seemed to reference the incident in a series of tweets Sunday:
Beckham Jr., coming off a torn ACL suffered in Super Bowl 56, is set to begin a free-agent tour this week.
The three-time Pro Bowler plans to meet with the New York Giants on Thursday and Friday, followed by the Dallas Cowboys on Dec. 5, according to Rapoport. He also intends to sit down with the Buffalo Bills at some point, per Rapoport.