The NFL fumbled the Demar Hamlin tragedy. What else would you expect? | Marcus Hayes

The corporate monolith that ran from its concussion epidemic, continually ignored substance-abuse and performance enhancers, and continues to wink and nod at their domestic violence problem now wants you to believe it wasn’t going to restart a critical, marquee football game because a player got hurt.

Except this time the player got very, very hurt.

And we saw what we saw, and we heard what we heard.

I’ve covered the NFL for 32 years. It cares about money and product, not players. So no, I don’t believe the NFL. Neither should you.

» READ MORE: Damar Hamlin in critical condition after cardiac arrest; Bills-Bengals indefinitely suspended

There’s no doubt in my mind that the Bills and Bengals would’ve resumed play on Monday Night Football after Bills safety Damar Hamlin suffered cardiac arrest and was revived on the field, in front of his peers. More than three quarters remained to be played.

Some players were weeping. Some were stunned. None felt like playing any more football. The NFL didn’t get it.

I have no doubt that the NFL would have resumed the game if not for the screaming outrage on social media and live, plaintive requests from its broadcast partners at ESPN to postpone the game.

Zero doubt. None.


Because of this:

“The only thing that we asked was that Shawn (Smith, the referee) communicate with both head coaches to make sure they had the proper time inside the locker room to discuss what they felt like was best.”


“What THEY felt was best.”

That’s what Troy Vincent, the NFL executive vice president of football operations, said in his conference call late Monday night.

What THEY felt best? The coaches? NFL commissioner Roger Goodell left this decision up to the coaches?

For God’s sake.

Goodell didn’t need to ask anyone what to do. He needed to end it himself, and he needed to end it much quicker.

Hamlin collapsed at 8.55 p.m. Trainers reached him in 10 seconds. An ambulance removed him from the stadium 30 minutes later, at 9:25.

To review: An ambulance transported a player from the field who, minutes earlier, was clinically dead, revived and sustained only by CPR and an AED. That should have been it. Over. Done.

But no.

Teams reportedly were informed that they had the usual five minutes to warm up. Vincent denied this, but the ESPN broadcast asserted it several times. A countdown clock was even started in Paycor Stadium.

Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow was throwing warm-up passes. Players were getting ready to go back at it.

And then Bengals coach Zac Taylor walked across the field to Bills coach Sean McDermott to discuss, apparently, a spontaneous sit-down strike. The coaches did the right thing.

Not the NFL.

The coaches.

After the ambulance left, the NFL did not postpone the game for another 36 minutes. They did so after consulting with the coaches.

Consulting with the coaches.

By then, the coaches had removed their players from the field. Players began leaving the locker rooms.

Vincent added this:

“How do you resume playing when such a traumatic event occurs in front of you in real time? And that’s the way we were thinking about it, the Commissioner and I.”

Then why did they need to consult the coaches? Because they wanted the coaches to assure them that their players would be fine resuming the game. That’s why.

I can’t even.

Now begins the typical corporate coverup.

Understand, first, that most of the commentators you will hear in the coming days have financial ties to the NFL, either through media partnerships like ESPN’s or through direct employment, as team employees or employees of the NFL’s media arm.

The coaches, who are team employees, might not take full credit for their heroic actions. Media outlets will parrot what the league demands they parrot.

The league might blame the officials.

But you saw what you saw, and you heard what you heard.

And it was awful.

When the ambulance left the field, so should have the players. All of them. For good.

The NFL should have announced over the loudspeaker in the stadium that the game had been postponed, that no more football would be played Monday night, and that prayers, if you are a prayer, should be directed toward the health and well-being of Damar Hamlin, his family, his teammates, and his compatriots in the league.

It’s very, very simple.

But the NFL acts with compassion only when compelled to do so.

It took them more than 30 minutes to act properly, and then did so only when their hand was forced.

The same way it settled the concussion lawsuit for $765 million. The same way it changed PED testing after players ridiculed the former protocols. The same way it finally addressed domestic violence.

Kicking. Screaming. Denying.


This content was originally published here.

Share this story