As we wait for more information about the status of Bills safety Damar Hamlin, many remain interested in understanding how ESPN came to declare, on multiple occasions, that the Bills and Bengals were told they’d have five minutes to warm up before continuing the game.
Interest in ESPN’s comments became heightened by remarks from NFL executive V.P. of football operations Troy Vincent that strongly challenged the notion that this message came from the league.
“I’m not sure where that came from,” Vincent said during a conference call held just after midnight on Tuesday. “Frankly, there was no time period for the players to get warmed up. Frankly, the only thing that we asked was that [referee] Shawn [Smith] 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.”
But ESPN’s Joe Buck didn’t pull it from thin air. He told Andrew Marchand of the New York Post that information about the game resuming “came from ESPN’s rules expert John Parry, who was in direct communication with the league.”
In this clip, Parry said he had just spoken with the league office in New York, and that “the situation has risen to a point where they want to give both teams, coaches, personnel, an opportunity to go back into the locker room, regroup themselves, and so the game has temporarily been suspended.”
This implies that there was a plan that changed, once the situation rose to the point that prompted the decision to send the teams to the locker room.
ESPN separately has issued a statement on the situation. Via Jeff Howe of TheAthletic.com, ESPN said this: “There was constant communication in real time between ESPN and league and game officials. As a result of that, we reported what we were told in the moment and immediately updated fans as new information was learned. This was an unprecedented, rapidly-evolving circumstance. All night long, we refrained from speculation.”
While ESPN expressly pointed no fingers, “what we were told in the moment” clearly came from one of the “league and game officials” with whom ESPN was in “constant communication.”
There will be a time to get to the bottom of whether the teams were indeed told that there would be a five-minute warmup before resumption of the game, and if so how that later became a decision to suspend play momentarily and then for the rest of the night, and beyond. For now, it remains possible that the teams were initially told that play would resume, and that the coaches and/or key players pushed back until someone relented.
ESPN says it was in “constant communication” with league and game officials originally appeared on Pro Football Talk