The NFL held a conference call for media members after midnight on Tuesday to discuss events surrounding the decision to postpone Monday night’s game between the Bills and Bengals, following the serious health situation that occurred regarding Bills safety Damar Hamlin.
Participating were Jeff Miller, NFL executive vice president of communications, public affairs & policy, Troy Vincent, NFL executive vice president of football operations, and Dawn Aponte, NFL chief football administrative officer.
Vincent explained the process that resulted in the decision to postpone the game. He said that the overriding priority was the well-being of Damar Hamlin, the players from both teams, and their staffs.
“Frankly, the competitive aspect never crossed my mind, never crossed our mind internally,” Vincent said, adding that the goal was to get a “pulse” on how the players and coaches were dealing with the situation.
Vincent added that he was in constant communication with Commissioner Roger Goodell, along with NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith and the two head coaches.
“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,” said Vincent, a former NFL defensive back. “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 that the NFL’s Emergency Action Plan, which is covered on a regular basis with all teams, was activated. He saw that all coaches and players were “traumatized” by what had occurred.
Vincent was asked about the report that the teams at one point were given five minutes to warm up before continuing.
“I’m not sure where that came from,” Vincent said. “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.”
The NFL provided no updates during the call regarding the health of Damar Hamlin, and the league emphasized that no decisions have been made about the continuation of the game.
“That’s not the consideration right now,” Miller said. “Our concern is for the player and his well-being. At the appropriate time, I’m sure that we’ll have a conversation around the next steps regarding the game.”