A report Monday night from ESPN’s Don Van Natta Jr. examines the decision to stop last Monday’s game between the Buffalo Bills and the Bengals in Cincinnati after defensive back Damar Hamlin went into cardiac arrest and required CPR from Bills trainer Denny Kellington.
Van Natta quoted a team official as saying, “The league did not cancel the game. The Bills and the Bengals canceled the game.”
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An excerpt from Van Natta’s story:
That final decision might have belonged to (NFL commissioner Roger) Goodell, but the first instinct not to play came on the field in Cincinnati.
“The ambulance left the field … and it was crystal clear from everyone’s perspective that we could not play,” the top team official said. (Chief football administrative officer Dawn) Aponte was speaking nonstop to NFL executives in New York and coaches and officials at the game. “The only chaos was coming … from the command center.”
The NFL’s senior-most executive inside the command center was (executive vice president of football operations Troy) Vincent, who oversaw staff on the field and others in communication with broadcast partners. In a conference call hours after the game was suspended, Vincent adamantly denied reports on ESPN’s broadcast that the game would resume after a five-minute warmup.
“And I was the one … that was communicating with the commissioner,” Vincent said. “We never, frankly, it never crossed our mind to talk about warming up to resume play. That’s ridiculous. That’s insensitive, and that’s not a place that we should ever be in.”
Last Wednesday, an indignant Vincent sounded near tears during a news conference as he repeated that the league never intended to resume play. Any other suggestion, he said, is “insensitive and frankly it lacked both empathy and compassion for Damar’s situation.”
Vincent said he was in constant communications with staff at the stadium.
“My mic was completely open in talking to (official) Shawn (Smith) and at that time I’m the center resource,” Vincent said. “At no time in my discussion in that hourlong time frame did we ever even – myself – reference (or) give any directives about getting players ready to play.”
The Cincinnati Enquirer’s Kelsey Conway wrote last week about the postponement of the game.
“Collectively, both teams made the decision to postpone the game,” Conway wrote. “This was when the league was notified of the teams’ decision.”
Hamlin spent several days recovering at UC Medical Center. He was released Monday and transferred to a hospital in Buffalo.
This content was originally published here.