Police escorted football star Odell Beckham Jr. off an American Airlines flight Sunday morning in Florida after crew members who tried to wake him up before departure grew concerned because he "appeared to be coming in and out of consciousness," officials said.
Beckham, a Super Bowl-winning wide receiver, is scheduled to begin visiting teams he could sign with as a free agent on Thursday. He most recently played for the Los Angeles Rams.
Miami-Dade police responded to American Airlines Flight 1228 in Miami, bound for Los Angeles, at around 9:30 a.m. after flight attendants called for help out of fear that Beckham was ill and "his condition would worsen through the expected 5 hour flight," police said.
"Upon the officers arrival, the flight crew asked Mr. Beckham several times to exit the aircraft, which he refused," police said in a statement. "The aircraft was deplaned, at which time Mr. Beckham was asked by the officers to exit the plane, and did so without incident."
American Airlines said in a statement the Los Angeles-bound plane “returned to the gate before takeoff due to a customer failing to follow crew member instructions and refusing to fasten their seatbelt” before it eventually departed at 10:54 a.m.
An attorney for the football star said Beckham had fallen asleep with a blanket over his head on the Sunday flight before it could take off. He was woken up and told he would have to get off the plane “because he did not put his seatbelt on when asked,” attorney Daniel Davillier said in a statement.
"He responded that he was asleep, and that he would put his seatbelt on at that time," Davillier said. But, he said Beckham was "informed that it was too late, and that either he would have to get off the plane or everyone would have to deplane."
"At no time was Mr Beckham disruptive or combative," Davillier said. "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," he said, adding that the airline had sent Beckham's luggage to Los Angeles without him.
"This incident was completely unnecessary. Sleeping on a plane should not be a cause for removal from a flight," he said.
Beckham, a free agent, is scheduled to visit the New York Giants, whom he played for from 2014 to 2018, on Thursday and Friday and then visit the Dallas Cowboys on Monday, according to the NFL. He also plans to visit the Buffalo Bills at some point, it reported.
Football fans are waiting to see where Beckham will play next. Also under speculation is how he is healing after he tore an ACL in the middle of February, the same one he tore 16 months earlier.