Damar Hamlin’s frightening situation Monday night had a ripple effect throughout the NFL and the league’s front office when he collapsed on the field during a game against the Cincinnati Bengals.
Troy Vincent, the NFL’s senior vice president of football operations who has played in the league for years, said on a media conference call Tuesday morning that players, coaches and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell felt shocked by what they saw in the field.
“I’ve never seen anything like this since I’ve been playing,” Vincent said on the call.
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The league did not provide any medical updates on Hamlin. The league said in a statement Monday night that Hamlin was taken to the hospital in critical condition. The league added that some Bills players chose to stay in Cincinnati while others prepared to return to Buffalo.
Vincent explained the decision-making process as the medical staff worked on Hamlin and the officials made the determination of what to do with the rest of the game. He was temporarily suspended in the first quarter.
“It was really about Damar and making sure, look, I’ve never seen anything like this since I’ve played, so I immediately put on my player’s hat,” Vincent added, via Pro Football Talk. “How do you play again when such a traumatic event occurs in front of you in real time? And that’s the way we thought about it, the commissioner and I.”
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Vincent brought up the idea that players and coaches had five minutes to warm up and get ready to play again.
“Frankly, there was no period of time for the players to warm up,” he added. “Frankly, all we asked was that [referee] Shawn [Hochuli] communicate with both head coaches to ensure they had adequate time inside the locker room to discuss what they felt was best. So I’m not sure where that came from. The five-minute warmup never crossed my mind, personally.
“And I was the one communicating with the commissioner. Frankly, it never crossed our minds to talk about warming up to resume play. That’s ridiculous. That’s insensitive. And that’s not a place we should be.” “
NFL vice president of communications Jeff Miller added that there was no timetable on whether play would resume. Both teams are already locked in the playoffs.
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The terrifying incident occurred with 5:58 remaining in the first quarter and Cincinnati leading the game, 7-3. The Bengals were on their second drive of the game when quarterback Joe Burrow threw a pass to Tee Higgins. Bills safety Hamlin came up for a tackle to end the play.
Hamlin got up off the ground and took a few steps back before collapsing onto the grass at Paycor Stadium. Medical personnel approached Hamlin to treat him when the ESPN broadcast turned commercial. He got out a stretcher and a board and then the ambulance.
Hamlin was on the ground for a while, and several reporters indicated that he was receiving CPR from medical personnel on the ground before being loaded into the ambulance.
The Bills selected Hamlin with the 212th overall pick in the sixth round of the 2021 draft. He played in 14 games last season, mostly on special teams, in his rookie season.
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Hamlin, 24, was playing his 16th game of the season. He had seen more time on the field as he recorded 91 tackles and 1.5 sacks.