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ESPN on Report of 5-Minute Warmup in Bills vs. Bengals: We Refrained from Speculation

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured Columnist IVJanuary 3, 2023

CINCINNATI, OHIO - JANUARY 02: An announcement is displayed on the scoreboard as the game between the Cincinnati Bengals and the Buffalo Bills is postponed following the injury of Damar Hamlin #3 of the Buffalo Bills during the first quarter at Paycor Stadium on January 02, 2023 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)
Dylan Buell/Getty Images

ESPN responded to comments from NFL official Troy Vincent regarding whether there was initially an attempt to restart Monday's game between the Buffalo Bills and Cincinnati Bengals after Bills safety Damar Hamlin collapsed in the first quarter.

"There was constant communication in real time between ESPN and game officials," ESPN said Tuesday in a statement. "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."

Vincent, the league's executive vice president of football operations, told reporters Tuesday morning the NFL didn't look to restart the game at any point.

Tom Pelissero @TomPelissero

NFL EVP Troy Vincent says there was never talk of a 5-minute warmup period, or any other timeframe other than making sure both teams had proper time in the locker room.<br><br>"It never crossed our mind to talk about warming up to resume play. That's ridiculous. That's insensitive."

Cameron Wolfe @CameronWolfe

NFL EVP of Football Ops Troy Vincent says no coaches or players spoke about resuming play:<br><br>Vincent: "I've never seen anything like it… how do you resume play when you see such a traumatic event happen in real time?"

His account was at odds with what was reported and happened on the field at the time.

After Hamlin was placed into an ambulance and transported to a local hospital, Joe Buck said on the Monday Night Football broadcast that players were told they had five minutes to get ready before action resumed. Some players were warming up on the field as well.

Bengals head coach Zac Taylor and Bills head coach Sean McDermott then met with officials before sending their teams to the locker rooms. Eventually, the game was temporarily suspended and postponed indefinitely. Many thought the league was dragging its feet by not immediately suspending the game when the gravity of the situation was clear.

The Bills confirmed Hamlin suffered cardiac arrest after tackling Bengals wide receiver Tee Higgins in the first quarter and needed to have his heartbeat restored on the field.

ESPN's Alaina Getzenberg noted that some of Hamlin's teammates "were visibly distressed and comforting one another as athletic trainers cared for him."

The NFL announced Tuesday it hasn't yet set a date for when the game will continue. The Week 18 schedule remains intact. Cincinnati will host the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday, with Buffalo returning home to play the New England Patriots.