Bengals, Bills canceled ‘Monday Night Football’ game that NFL wanted to resume, per report
A Monday night report from Don Van Natta Jr. of ESPN reviews the decision to stop last Monday’s game between the Buffalo Bills and Bengals in Cincinnati after linebacker Damar Hamlin went into cardiac arrest and required CPR from Bills coach Denny Kellington.
Van Natta quoted a team official as saying, “The league did not cancel the game. The Bills and Bengals canceled the game.”
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An excerpt from Van Natta’s story:
That final decision may have belonged to (NFL commissioner Roger) Goodell, but the first instinct to not play came on the field in Cincinnati.
“The ambulance left the field … and it was clear from everyone’s point of view that we couldn’t play,” the team’s chief official said. (Football Chief Administrative Officer Dawn) Aponte was talking nonstop with NFL executives in New York and with coaches and officials at the game. “The only chaos was coming … from the command center.”
The top NFL executive inside the command center was (executive vice president of football operations Troy) Vincent, who oversaw field staff and others in communications with broadcast partners. In a conference call hours after the game was suspended, Vincent adamantly denied reports on the ESPN broadcast that the game would resume after a five-minute warmup.
“And I was the one … communicating with the commissioner,” Vincent said. Honestly, it never occurred to us to talk about warming up to restart the game. This is funny. It’s insensitive and it’s not where we should ever be.”
Last Wednesday, an outraged Vincent heard many tears during a press conference as he reiterated that the league had no intention of ever resuming play. Any other suggestion, he said, is “insensitive and frankly lacks empathy and compassion for Damar’s situation.”
Vincent said he was in constant communication with staff at the stadium.
“My mic was completely open to talk to (official) Shawn (Smith) and at that time I’m the central source,” Vincent said. “At no point in my discussion in that one-hour time frame did we — I — refer to (or) any guidance on preparing the players to play.”
The story continues
Buffalo Bills players kneel in prayer as the ambulance carrying teammate Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin (not pictured) leaves the field during the first quarter against the Cincinnati Bengals at Paycor Stadium.
Kelsey Conway of the Cincinnati Enquirer wrote last week about the game being postponed.
“Collectively, both teams made the decision to postpone the game,” Conway wrote. “That’s 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 Buffalo hospital.
This article originally appeared in the Cincinnati Enquirer: Bengals, Bills cancel game NFL wanted to restart, report says