ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — The NFL held a media conference Wednesday afternoon to address player safety following the collapse of Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin during the Bills vs Bengals game two days prior.
“We continue to keep Damar Hamlin and his family in our thoughts,” NFL Executive VP of Communications, Public Affairs and Policy Jeff Miller said. He said that the NFL will not be sharing updates on Hamlin’s status or when the game will resume, leaving that to the family and the Bills, respectively.
According to a 1:30 p.m. Bills tweet, Hamlin “remains in the ICU in critical condition with signs of improvement noted yesterday and overnight. He is expected to remain under intensive care as his health care team continues to monitor and treat him.”
With players, staff, and fans from all sides rattled, the game was temporarily suspended, and then eventually postponed indefinitely.
NFL Chief Medical Officer Dr. Allen Sills highlighted the quick response of the emergency medical staff, commending them for their work. He went on to share the organization’s safety plans for incidents exactly like these.
“Our preparation for these incidents starts many many months before game day,” Sills explained.
Sills highlighted what he called the three E’s of NFL safety: Emergency Action Plan (EAP), equipment, and enhanced preparation.
The EAP is a detailed document submitted by each team detailing each team’s plan in the event of a medical emergency. The equipment aspect ensures that life-saving technology and equipment is with the teams at all times, and travels with them during away games. Enhanced preparation asks that necessary team and staff members go through regular training to prepare them to act in a moment of crisis.
“My greatest fear had flashed in front of me [Monday night], but for the goodness and grace of god, Damar is still here and he’s still fighting,” NFL Executive Vice President of Football Operations Troy Vincent said, voice breaking. “There’s no playbook for managing real-time drama and emotions associated with the immediate, life-threatening event that occurred Monday night.”
He emphasized how the plan in place for first responders helped saved Hamlin’s life: “That EAP was executed to perfection […] you gave our brother Damar another day to live, another chance to fight.”
Game reschedule date
As the NFL stated Tuesday afternoon, the game will not be rescheduled for this week/weekend.
“We have no announcement to make at this time,” Miller said about a rescheduling date. “There is a lot of considerations in place there, and a lot of people that we want to consult with.”
He did say a reschedule date will be announced at some point in the coming days.
Vincent took a moment to address some suggestions made Monday night that the game continue after Hamlin was taken off the field.
“That suggestion was inappropriate, insensitive, and frankly, it lacked empathy and compassion for Damar’s situation, who is still […] fighting for his life to this day,” Vincent said. “The only thing that mattered to myself, the team here, the folks in the stadium, the coaches, was the health and wellness of Damar […] We just couldn’t play.”