Former Los Angeles Rams receiver Odell Beckham Jr. was escorted from a Los Angeles-bound plane at Miami International Airport Sunday because he didn’t follow a crew member’s instructions and fasten his seat belt, according to American Airlines.
The Miami-Dade Police Department were notified of a medical emergency on American Airlines Flight 1228 around 9:30 a.m. Eastern Standard Time. The flight crew grew concerned for a passenger — identified by police as Beckham — as they tried to wake him to fasten his seat belt, according to a statement from the department.
Police said Beckham appeared to be drifting in and out of consciousness prior to departure of the flight.
“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,” police said. “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.”
American Airlines issued a statement saying that the plane “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.”
Daniel Davillier, Beckham’s attorney, issued a statement saying the “the flight was delayed after boarding and prior to take off” and Beckham “fell asleep with his blanket over his head, which is his normal practice for long flights.”
“He was awaken[ed] 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,” Davillier said. “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. 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 seat belt.”
Beckham was not cited or arrested, according to NFL.com.
“Never in my life have I experienced what just happened to me… I’ve seen it alll,” he tweeted.
Beckham scored the first touchdown in the Rams’ 23-20 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals in Super Bowl LVI Feb. 13 at SoFi Stadium, but tore an ACL in the second quarter. He remains unsigned.