The Buffalo Bills gather as an ambulance parks on the field while CPR is administered to Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin The Buffalo Bills gather as an ambulance parks on the field while CPR is administered to Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin after a play in the first quarter of the NFL Week 17 game between the Cincinnati Bengals and the Buffalo Bills at Paycor Stadium in Downtown Cincinnati on Monday, Jan. 2, 2023. The game was suspended with suspended in the first quarter after Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin (3) was taken away in an ambulance following a play. Xxx Sdsyndication The Enquirer 5534 Jpg Oh

The Monday Night Football game between the Buffalo Bills and Cincinnati Bengals was halted after Bills safety Damar Hamlin collapsed to the ground following a collision with Bengals wide receiver Tee Higgins.

Hamlin was unable to breathe on his own after the play and was issued CPR and AED by medical staff before being rushed to the University of Cincinnati hospital for treatment.

While NFL games have certainly continued following injuries before, the shell-shocked teammates and other players left on the field seemed wholly incapable of putting their focus back on football, and understandably so.

However, ESPN announcer Joe Buck said that officials gave the teams a five-minute heads-up to warm up before play would resume.

Reports spread across social media that Bills head coach Sean McDermott and Bengals head coach Zac Taylor met on the field and decided that they would not let their players continue the game. At that point, both teams left the field and the NFL would soon announce that play was suspended for the evening.

The NFL took a lot of heat after the injury, not just for the lack of information and the slow speed at which they seemed to be moving, but also for the reported insistence that the game needed to continue. Praise was heaped on McDermott and Taylor for being the ones to make the decision, which the league presumably had no choice but to go along with.

However, when Troy Vincent, NFL executive vice president of football operations, was asked about this during a press conference later, he not only refuted the report but called the notion “insensitive.”

“I’m not sure where that came from,” Vincent said, via ProFootballTalk. “Frankly, there was no time period for the players to get warmed up. 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.”

Vincent said that he had been in constant communication with Commissioner Roger Goodell, NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith, and both 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, who played in the NFL for 16 seasons. “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.”

The confusing part now is figuring out why Buck said that players had been given “five minutes” to get ready if, according to Vincent, that was never a consideration in the first place. It’s possible Buck may have misconstrued some information that had been passed along, but he’s a savvy enough broadcaster to know when to share something like that and when not.

For the NFL’s sake, hopefully, they’re telling the truth. Unfortunately for them, they don’t have a good track record of putting humanity ahead of money, so it’s not surprising that people believed the initial report without much pushback.


About Sean Keeley

Along with writing for Awful Announcing and The Comeback, Sean is the Editorial Strategy Director for Comeback Media. Previously, he created the Syracuse blog Troy Nunes Is An Absolute Magician and wrote 'How To Grow An Orange: The Right Way to Brainwash Your Child Into Rooting for Syracuse.' He has also written non-Syracuse-related things for SB Nation, Curbed, and other outlets. He currently lives in Seattle where he is complaining about bagels. Send tips/comments/complaints to