Days before the official start of his in-season free agency tour, Odell Beckham Jr. has been grounded, literally. Set to travel from Miami to Los Angeles, the wide receiver was removed from an American Airlines flight on Sunday after an incident with the flight crew, according to the Miami-Dade Police Department:
At approximately 9:30 a.m., officers from the Miami-Dade Police Department were dispatched to a medical emergency at an American Airlines flight. 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. 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 aircraft was deplaned, at which time Mr. Beckham was asked by the officers to exit the plane, and did so without incident. Mr. Beckham was escorted to the non-secure area of the terminal by the officers where he made other arrangements.
Officers were initially dispatched to the airport for a "medical emergency," with Beckham allegedly appearing to "come in and out of consciousness" while seated on the plane before the scheduled takeoff. Eventually, the aircraft was deplaned, and Beckham was escorted off -- and through the airport -- without incident.
The American Airlines crew was "concerned for ... Beckham as they tried to wake him to fasten his seat belt," the police said. "Fearing that Mr. Beckham was seriously ill, and that his condition would worsen through the expected five-hour flight, the attendants called for police and fire rescue." Upon arrival, the officers allegedly asked Beckham several times to exit the plane, and the wide receiver refused. After all the other passengers were deplaned, however, Beckham agreed to exit and was seen walking with a police escort out of the gate area and into the terminal, "where he made other arrangements."
Beckham was not officially cited or detained as part of the incident. Several people alleging to be on his flight, however, complained on social media about his behavior causing a delay. American Airlines released the following statement: "Flight 1228, with service from Miami to Los Angeles, 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 10:54 a.m. local time," roughly an hour and a half after its scheduled takeoff.
Beckham has only indirectly addressed the events via Twitter, tweeting Sunday: "Never in my life have I experienced what just happened to me ... I've seen it all." His attorney, Daniel Davillier, has since downplayed Beckham's role in the incident:
Earlier today, Odell Beckham Jr. boarded a morning flight in Miami without any problems. 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 awaken [sic] 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 seatbelt on when asked. He responded that he was asleep, and that he would put his seatbelt 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 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.
The off-field controversy comes just days ahead of his scheduled visit with the Cowboys, who have been publicly courting his services as he plans a return to the field. The former Rams standout, who's yet to play in 2022 due to a torn ACL suffered in February, is also scheduled to visit the Giants and Bills in the near future.