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NFL denies ESPN’s ‘five minutes’ report after Bills’ Damar Hamlin collapsed on field

Bills safety Damar Hamlin collapsed on the field in a frightening scene during Monday night’s game against the Bengals. The NFL claims that there was no plan to restart the game, despite that being repeatedly stated on ESPN’s “Monday Night Football” broadcast.

Hamlin, 24, suffered a cardiac arrest after tackling Cincinnati receiver Tee Higgins in the first quarter, leading to the game being suspended. But it took a long time for the league to officially nix the game for the night – and ESPN reported on the broadcast that despite the horrifying situation unfolding on the field, the league originally told players they had five minutes to warm up before the contest would start up again.

Now, the NFL is denying that was the case.

“I’m not sure where that came from,” Troy Vincent, NFL executive vice president of football operations, said on a media conference call early Tuesday morning, per Pro Football Talk. “Frankly, there was no time period for the players to get warmed up. Frankly, the only thing that we asked was that [referee] Shawn [Smith] 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.

Bills players react after Damar Hamlin collapsed on the field
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Troy Vincent, NFL executive vice president of football operations
Troy Vincent, NFL executive vice president of football operations
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“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.”

During ESPN’s broadcast of the game, announcer Joe Buck said on multiple occasions that both coaches and teams had been given “five minutes to warm up” while Hamlin was still collapsed on the field. It appeared that, after that warning, Bengals head coach Zac Taylor walked across the field and spoke with Bills coach Sean McDermott, and after the two exchanged words, each team headed back to the locker room and it was announced the game had been “temporarily suspended.”

“The league can say whatever it wants to say about [playing the game]… a group of men locked arms on different sides of a sideline and said no we’re not,” Scott Van Pelt said on “SportsCenter” later Monday evening.

“I think obviously the correct decision was made because the context became clear to everyone that this game could not be played right now.”

Damar Hamlin
Damar Hamlin
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It took more than another half hour for the game to be officially suspended for the night, with many on Twitter calling the league insensitive for the slow speed at which it acted.

As of early Tuesday morning, Hamlin was sedated and listed in critical condition after suffering the cardiac event, per the Bills’ Twitter account. He was taken to a level 1 trauma center at a nearby Cincinnati hospital.

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