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Odell Beckham Jr., other NFL stars take flight

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Odell Beckham Jr. is paid for his amazing, highlight reel worthy catches, but on Wednesday afternoon he found himself learning about something he never dreamed of seeing.

“It’s a crazy experience, I never thought I would be able to see these planes up close,” said the Pro Bowler after he stood over the cockpit of an F-16 as part of the NFL’s Airman for a Day event at Luke Air Force Base on Wednesday.

While catching footballs in an NFL game with defensive backs draped over him presents its own challenges, Beckham Jr. acknowledged that piloting a fighter jet is much, much harder.

“Probably flying one of those planes, for sure,” Beckham Jr. said.

Jets Pro Bowl center Nick Mangold joined his New York rival on the tarmac, one of four demonstrations taking place for Pro Bowlers visiting the base.

Talking to these stars and explaining what he does was a surreal experience for Captain Dan Toftness of the 61st Fighter Squadron.

“It was pretty cool, they are just normal guys like we are so it was cool to meet them,” said Toftness.

Toftness was eager to brag to both Mangold and Beckham Jr. about the F-35 Lightning II plane, his unit’s newest jet.

The tarmac was filled with Air Force men and women, wanting to meet and talk with the two New York stars, who were very intrigued by the F-35 Lightning II that made them look small.

“They were asking a lot of questions, especially about the different variants of the F-35. They’ve seen on the news the short takeoff and vertical model that the Marines have. So they were asking the difference between this one and that, because they appear to be the same airplane,” Toftness said.

For Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan the most rewarding part of his day was connecting to the people that, as he said “put their lives on the line everyday to protect the things you and I take for granted.”

Even so, Ryan received some interesting reactions when he jumped on Skype to meet some of the servicemen and women serving overseas.

“I think I talked to all Cowboys fans, so I think they were hoping for Tony Romo, but they take me as a close second,” Ryan joked.

None of the servicemen and women were shy, lining up for selfies and autographs with players from their favorite teams.

And the players were not shy either. Eager to meet the people that protect this country, the players talked to as many Air Force members as they could and turned off football, even for just a few hours.