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Odell Beckham Jr. was removed from a flight at Miami International Airport on Sunday after police said the free agent wide receiver was “in and out of consciousness” and refused to leave the airplane when asked.
Beckham’s attorney, Daniel Davillier, disputed that account, saying his client had been sleeping and that the incident was the result of an “overzealous flight attendant.”
According to a statement from the Miami-Dade Police Department, officers were called to the airport for a medical emergency after the flight crew expressed concern that Beckham was seriously ill.
“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,” the police statement said. “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.”
Police said the airplane was evacuated and that Beckham ultimately got off the plane when asked by officers.
Later Sunday, Davillier released a statement saying the entire incident was “completely unnecessary.”
“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.”
Beckham also appeared to address the incident in a series of tweets Sunday morning, writing, “Never in my life have I experienced what just happened to me… I’ve seen it alll..” and calling the situation “comedy hr.”
American Airlines, which was operating the Miami-to-Los Angeles flight, said in a statement that the plane returned to the gate because of “a customer failing to follow crew member instructions and refusing to fasten their seatbelt.” The flight took off almost two hours after initially scheduled.
Police said Beckham made other arrangements after being removed from the flight. He was not arrested in the incident.
Carlos Gauna, a passenger in business class, told The Associated Press that he recognized Beckham before boarding the flight and later used his cellphone camera to record him walking through the airport terminal with police. He said Beckham had been seated in first class.
“He just walked quietly. Police escorted him out,” Gauna said, adding that the flight was full and he heard “grumblings” among other passengers.
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Gauna said the aircraft was taxiing toward takeoff when the captain announced that “a situation with a passenger” required a return to the terminal. Gauna said an ambulance arrived and paramedics boarded the aircraft and spoke with Beckham before police removed him.
Beckham, who has not played this season while recovering from a torn ACL suffered in last season’s Super Bowl, was expected to meet with teams this week ahead of a possible signing.
The Dallas Cowboys are believed to be the front-runners to sign Beckham, with the Kansas City Chiefs, Buffalo Bills, New York Giants and San Francisco 49ers also in the mix.