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NFL team official blames league director for Bills-Bengals warmup report

NFL team official blames league director for Bills-Bengals warmup report

One of the unanswered questions swirling around has been abandoned Buffalo Bills and the Cincinnati Bengals game in Week 17 of the NFL regular season is that players would have 5 minutes to warm up again after Damar Hamlin suffered a cardiac arrest on the field.

ESPN’s Joe Buck said during the broadcast that the players will have time to warm up again before Bills coach Sean McDermott. Bengals coach Zac Taylor led his players back to the locker room. NFL Vice President of Football Operations Troy Vincent gave players 5 minutes to warm up and return to the field after the medical emergency.

An anonymous senior team official from one of the game’s teams credited NFL senior football administrator Dawn Aponte in an interview with ESPN for acting as a mediator between the coaches and referees at Paycor Stadium and the decision makers. League command center in New York City. The official said there was no way the teams could play again and described an effort from the base to stop the game permanently that night.

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NFL Executive Vice President of Football Operations Troy Vincent attends the Super Bowl XLIX Football Operations Press Conference on January 29, 2015 in Phoenix.
(Rob Carr/Getty Images)

“The league did not cancel the game,” the team official he told ESPN. “The Billets and the Bengals canceled the game.”

The team official added that once the ambulance left Hamlin Field, “it was clear from everyone’s perspective” that the game could not continue.

“The only chaos was coming from … the command center,” the official said.

Vincent was described as the most senior executive in the command center at the time. He vehemently denied calling the players to warm up again.

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NFL team official blames league director for Bills-Bengals warmup report

A sign sits on a fence outside the University of Cincinnati Medical Center, Tuesday, Jan. 3, 2023, in Cincinnati. Buffalo Bills quarterback Damar Hamlin was taken to the hospital after collapsing on the field during an NFL football game against the Cincinnati Bengals on Monday night.
(AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

“The league screws up because Troy Vincent screws this thing up,” the official said. “That’s the person in the wrong position at the wrong time… He wants to be a hero, but he’ll never take responsibility. That’s who he is.”

With the game in limbo and the players stuck in the locker room, ESPN reported that multiple ideas came out of New York, including the idea that the Bills would stay the night in Cincinnati. The team manager said at the head of his team, “there was nothing to discuss.”

Taylor said there was no “push” for anything to happen, nor was there a directive to reheat the team.

The league suspended the game after 66 minutes. Vincent later addressed the media saying there was no directive to rewarm the players, while ESPN backed up their report the next day.

Damar Hamlin, No. 3 of the Buffalo Bills, stands near the sideline before an NFL football game against the Cincinnati Bengals at Paycor Stadium on January 2, 2023 in Cincinnati.

Damar Hamlin, No. 3 of the Buffalo Bills, stands near the sideline before an NFL football game against the Cincinnati Bengals at Paycor Stadium on January 2, 2023 in Cincinnati.
(Kevin Sabitus/Getty Images)

NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy told reporters last week that an NFL rules analyst adamantly told ESPN’s John Parry, who was in the booth, about the 5-minute warmup and relayed the information to Buck, Troy Aikman and the audience at home.

“We stand by Troy Vincent’s comments and strongly refute this characterization,” McCarthy said.

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Bills and Bengals game later it was cancelled and decided not to compete.



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