Damar Hamlin’s terrifying situation on Monday night had a ripple effect across the NFL and into the league’s front office as he collapsed on the field during a game against the Cincinnati Bengals.
Troy Vincent, the NFL’s senior vice president of football operations who played in the league for years, said in a conference call with the media early Tuesday that players, coaches and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell were impacted by what they saw go down on the field.
“I’ve never seen anything like it since I’ve been playing,” Vincent said on the call.
The league offered no medical update on Hamlin. The league said in a statement late Monday that Hamlin was taken to the hospital in critical condition. The league added that some Bills players chose to stay in Cincinnati while others geared up to go back to Buffalo.
Vincent explained the decision-making process as medical staff worked on Hamlin and officials made the determination on what to do with the rest of the game. It was temporarily suspended in the first quarter.
“It was really about Damar and making sure — look, I’ve never seen anything like it since I’ve been playing, so immediately my player hat went on,” Vincent added, via Pro Football Talk. “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.”
Vincent said the notion that players and coaches were given five minutes to warm up to get ready and play again.
“Frankly, there was no time period for the players to get warmed up,” he added. “Frankly, the only thing that we asked was that [referee] Shawn [Hochuli] 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. So I’m not sure where that came from. Five-minute warmup never crossed my mind, personally.
“And I was the one that was communicating with the commissioner. 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.”
NFL vice president of communications Jeff Miller added there was no timetable on whether the game will resume. Both teams are locked in the playoffs already.
The scary 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 over to make a tackle to end the play.
Hamlin got up from the ground and took a few steps backward before he collapsed to the Paycor Stadium turf. Medical personnel came over to Hamlin to attend to him as the ESPN broadcast went to commercial. A stretcher and backboard came out and later the ambulance.
Hamlin was on the ground for a while and multiple reporters indicated he was receiving CPR from the medical staff on the ground before he was put into the ambulance.
The Bills selected Hamlin with the No. 212 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.
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.