Buffalo Bills players pray for teammate Dumar Hamlin during the first half of Monday night’s game. (AP Photo/Joshua A. Bickel)


A little past the halfway point of the first quarter, Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow, surrounded by the spectacle of Monday Night Football and the high stakes of a pivotal game between the Cincinnati Bengals and the Buffalo Bills, turned to wide receiver Tea Higgins. I floated a short pass. Higgins sprinted upfield as Dumar Hamlin bolted and tackled from a safe position. Higgins’ helmet hit Hamlin’s chest like a battering ram. Until it was no longer, it was a routine play. It was an important game, but it wasn’t.

In the harrowing moment that ensued on the lawn of Peycoe Stadium, the emergency doctor pumped Hamlin’s chest frantically and restarted his heart. Hamlin was driven off the field in an ambulance, his battered teammate and opponent with tears in their eyes and anguished terror on his face.

As the network transitioned from broadcasting football games to reporting news stories, viewers on national television watched live on ESPN. As calls were made between New York and Cincinnati, NFL executives decided how to handle a moment of medical disaster unprecedented in even a sport rife with violence and physical pain.

Hamlin remained in critical condition after spending the night in the intensive care unit at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center Tuesday afternoon. The NFL has announced that the postponed games will not resume this week, and no decision has been made on whether it will be fully finished. increase.

First Responder’s Rapid Efforts Could Have Been Important For Dummer Hamlin

As Hamlin continues to fight for his life and the NFL machine races ahead, the frantic time between Hamlin’s injury and postponement will drag on. It rattled the league and inspired support from all corners of the sports world. None of those present had ever seen anything like it.

The Bengals-Bills matchup could be a decisive showdown for the AFC’s top playoff spot and started off as one of the most anticipated matches of the season. “A great night for the NFL and a great showcase for our hometown, in a statement.

The Bengals led 7-3 with 6:12 remaining in the first quarter, with Burrow finding Higgins in second and third. Bengals running his back his Joe Mixon pointed at Hamlin and waved towards the sidelines. A whistle blew and the game clock stopped.Buffalo’s training staff rushed to the field at 8:55 p.m.

Play-by-play announcer Joe Buck said on ESPN’s broadcast, “One Bills player has gone down. ‘That’s Dummer Hamlin, who’s an important part of this defense. We’ll be back after this.'” As it happens, it quickly switched to commercials.

By Tuesday night, none of the league, teams or medical personnel had provided an update on Hamlin’s condition or detailed his frenzy in the first few minutes after his injury. So when Hamlin lay on the ground, his life in danger, the best available record of how those moments unfolded was a photograph from the “Monday Night Football” television broadcast. A report was left.

After the first round of commercials, ESPN returned at 8:58 and viewers could see stretchers on the field. The network showed a replay of the injury before returning to commercials again. By 9:01, scenes on the field revealed the seriousness of Hamlin’s injury. An ambulance was on the field. Bills quarterback Josh Allen had his face buried in his hand. Wide receiver Stephon Diggs walked around trembling visibly in his eyes. “I have nothing to say now,” Buck said. “Let’s rest and come again.”

At every stadium, the NFL develops emergency action plans for serious on-field medical situations. Ambulances are on standby inside the stadium for each match. A doctor who specializes in airway management is stationed. A level 1 trauma center is designated nearby. Medical staff rehearse the plan each year. Each crew member knows who to call an ambulance on the scene and when to request specific medical assistance.

One hour before kick-off, more than 30 medical staff from both teams and independent medical staff will gather for a so-called 60-minute meeting. Meetings led by the home team’s personal physician will review stadium resources and remind them of the nearest hospital.

When trainers arrived in Hamlin, they saw the 24-year-old world-class athlete in dire condition. he was in cardiac arrest. Players from both teams surrounded Hamlin. Some walked away in shock, unable to see. Some even knelt down and prayed. many cried.

Medical personnel unscrewed Hamlin’s face mask, gave him oxygen from a portable tank, and administered CPR. They restored his heartbeat. They put him on a stretcher.

At 9:04, sideline reporter Lisa Salters reported that Hamlin was receiving treatment on the field, but was unable to provide details because surrounding players were blocking her view. , Buck informed the audience that CPR was performed.

At 9:10, 15 minutes after he collapsed, the ambulance carrying Hamlin rushed into the tunnel and was out of sight. Beerus players gathered in prayer behind. Fans applauded. After his mother joined him from the stands, Hamlin was driven to the University of Cincinnati Medical Center accompanied by a police escort.

“From an emergency action plan perspective,” said Jeff Miller, the NFL’s executive vice president of communications, public relations and policy. happen. “

As medical personnel fought for Hamlin’s life, NFL executives grappled with the question of how to handle the rest of the game.

NFL Chief Football Administration Officer Dawn Aponte represented the league office at Peycoe Stadium. After the ambulance left the field, Bengals coach Zack He Taylor and Bills coach Sean McDermott met with umpire Sean Smith. Remotely, executive vice president Troy Vincent triangulated communications with Aponte, Smith, NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith, and his league commissioner Roger Goodell.

Shortly after the ambulance left the field, Buck told viewers that the game would resume after a five-minute warm-up period, based on information from ESPN’s official analyst John Parry. Every Monday Night Game During his game, Parry liaises with the league’s refereeing department on matters such as replays his review decisions, and Buck and his analyst Troy He relay the information to Aikman. However, this decision escalated beyond the people with whom Parry normally communicated.

“They’re going to try to keep this game going,” Buck said at 9:13 p.m.

How ESPN viewers learned about Dumar Hamlin’s injury

Despite Buck’s reports, Vincent later said the league had never considered restarting the game.

“Soon, hats off to my players followed. How do you get back to play when a traumatic event like this happens in front of you in real time?” NFL Defensive Over 16 Seasons Vincent, who has served as Buck, said: “The commissioner and I thought so.”

Some players have returned to rituals that suggest they are preparing to play. After a few minutes of tears streaking down his face, Diggs stood in front of his teammates and delivered a fiery speech.

Buck said on air that despite going through these moves, the players didn’t seem to be preparing seriously. . “Everyone is stagnant.”

Vincent said he and Goodell decided they “wanted to breathe life into the coaches and players” as they pondered whether to restart the game. I’m back. McDermott yelled at the players, “Locker room, locker room.”

At 9:18 p.m., Smith announced to the crowd that the game was temporarily suspended.Both teams left the field. Vincent stopped communicating with Smith once the game was suspended and spoke directly with McDermott and Taylor.

Vincent strongly dismissed the idea that the league had told players that they would have five minutes to warm up, calling it “ridiculous” and “insensitive” and saying he had no idea where it came from. One team’s assistant coach, who requested anonymity to discuss the matter, said the coaching staff had never been given a restart timetable and admitted the head coach had taken players off the field.

“It was never officially communicated like that,” the coach said. “I was in the box and I didn’t get much information. I think they were trying to figure out what to do because it was so traumatic. We have decided to take the team to the locker room based on the feedback.”

On Tuesday, ESPN released a statement backing Buck’s report.

A network spokesperson said, “There was constant, real-time communication between ESPN and league and game stakeholders.” We updated our fans as soon as we got the. This was an unprecedented and rapidly changing situation.”

Once the players took refuge in the locker room, the NFL continued its deliberations. NFLPA head DeMaurice Smith has said he wants to postpone the game. According to the NFL rulebook, the decision rests with Goodell.

at ESPN’s studio At 9:19 p.m. in New York, analyst and former NFL player Booger McFarland asked the league to postpone the game. I don’t know if I can play soccer,” he said.

After a 5.5-mile ambulance ride to the University of California Medical Center, doctors intubated and sedated Hamlin. His vital signs returned to normal, but Hamlin’s family friend Jordon Rooney said doctors classified Hamlin as in critical condition.

At 9:54 p.m., Bills’ equipment crew cleared the equipment and the players began shaking hands and hugging in the hallway between the locker rooms. At 10:01, the league announced the postponement of the game.

“Medical advice guided our decision,” Aponte said. “Like Troy said, we were in constant communication with both teams, medical personnel, game personnel and owners. I made a decision that I believe will be in my best interest.”

The player was given the option to stay in Cincinnati, but the Bills team’s plane flew home. Burrow and several teammates also visited the hospital.

Fans at home could only process what they saw through ESPN’s ongoing coverage. Following the postponement, on “SportsCenter,” former NFL safety Ryan Clark delivered a stream of eloquent and profound analysis, essentially an impromptu oral essay. At one point, Clarke ruminated on the bargains all his NFL players must hit.

“Part of living this dream is risking your life,” Clark said.


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