NFL wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. has seen his name in the press a lot lately as the rumor mill continues to churn out stories about where the famed player will elect to sign once he finishes rehab. He suffered a torn ACL in last year’s Super Bowl victory while a member of the Los Angeles Rams.
On Sunday, the receiver made headlines for a different reason than his on-field abilities. The player was removed from an American Airlines flight in Miami prior to departure after the flight crew said he was unresponsive to a request that he fastens his seatbelt.
“The flight crew was concerned for a passenger (Mr. Odell Beckham), as they tried to wake him to fasten his seat belt, he appeared to be coming in and out of consciousness, prior to their departure,” read a statement from Miami-Dade County Police about the incident. “Fearing that Mr. Beckham was seriously ill and that his condition would worsen through the expected 5-hour flight, the attendants called for police and fire rescue.
“Upon the officers’ arrival, the flight crew asked Mr. Beckham several times to exit the aircraft, which he refused. The [passengers] were deplaned, at which time Mr. Beckham was asked by the officers to exit the plane, and did so without incident.”
Beckham’s attorney, Daniel Davillier, released a statement that shifted blame for the incident to the flight crew and flight attendants for overreacting to the player’s behavior. Davillier explained that Beckham was asleep with a blanket over his head, something he regularly does on long flights.
“The overzealous flight attendant insisted on removing everyone from the plane instead of simply allowing Mr. Beckham to fasten his seatbelt and proceed with the flight. At no time was Mr. Beckham disruptive or combative. He was willing to comply with the seatbelt 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 gate, then they could have done the same thing to ask him to put on his seatbelt.”
After being escorted from the plane by Miami-Dade County police, Beckham was released and allowed to arrange other travel. His luggage remained on the plane bound for Los Angeles. He was not charged or cited with any crimes, and police did not indicate any evidence that Beckham was under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of the incident.
Beckham is expected to begin meeting with NFL teams next week and is being courted by the Dallas Cowboys, New York Giants, and the Los Angeles Rams, among other teams. He is scheduled to meet with the Cowboys on December 5.
Outside of the statement from his attorney, Beckham has remained largely silent on the incident. On Sunday, he posted to Twitter that “Never in my life have I experienced what just happened to me. Now I’ve seen it all,” his first tweet reads. He followed up in all caps with “I COULD NEVER MAKE THIS UP,” then added, “Never.In.My.Life.”
Beckham is considered to be the top receiver available this year in free agency but has not been able to practice or work out with any team due to his injury designation. Reports indicate that he is very near the end of rehabilitation.