The NFL made an unprecedented and necessary decision Monday night to indefinitely postpone a game.
The overwhelming reason: acknowledgement of the trauma that the Buffalo Bills and Cincinnati Bengals players confronted when Bills safety Damar Hamlin suffered cardiac arrest midway through the first quarter.
Tuesday, the league further acknowledged the mental health considerations in a memo to club executives obtained by Yahoo Sports.
“Earlier today, the Head of Player Engagement and Team Clinician for each club received information from Dr. Nyaka NiiLampti about mental health and support resources that are available to your players and staff,” NFL commissioner Roger Goodell wrote in a memo to chief executives, club presidents, general managers and head coaches. “Additional resources including on-site services can be available for any club that wishes this assistance.”
NFL memo from commissioner Roger Goodell to club officials mentions decision made to not immediately resume Bills-Bengals game.
Also, and more importantly: NFL teams received information about mental health and support resources. pic.twitter.com/nMRy3Get46
— Jori Epstein (@JoriEpstein) January 3, 2023
Goodell also detailed the medical procedure followed Monday night in Cincinnati to resuscitate Hamlin, confirming Hamlin was “stabilized” and then transported to the University of Cincinnati Medical Center. He remained in the intensive care unit overnight, still in "critical condition" Tuesday afternoon, according to the Bills.
The NFL decided the Bills-Bengals game will not be resumed this week. No decisions on an eventual rescheduling, nor any changes to this week's regular-season finales, had been made as of the Tuesday memo.
Players across the NFL posted on social media Monday night and Tuesday morning expressing prayers and support for Hamlin, the Bills and Bengals, and all those who witnessed the event. It was clear that Hamlin’s on-field collapse, after what appeared to be a routine tackle, shook the league. The emergency necessitated CPR administered on field as players cried and prayed around Hamlin.
Players ultimately returned to their locker rooms, the game eventually postponed indefinitely.
NFL officials held a conference call with reporters just after midnight ET Tuesday to share information.
“We were just really trying to make sure we were doing right by Damar, the players and the coaches,” NFL executive vice president of football operations Troy Vincent said. “Neither coach, frankly, was talking about resuming play.”
Vincent, who played in the NFL from 1992 to 2006, said he’d “never seen anything like it.”
“Immediately, my player hat went on: How do you resume play when a traumatic event occurred in front of you, in real time?” he said.
The league disputed a broadcast report that it had directed the players to warm up for five minutes and return to play after Hamlin had left the field in an ambulance.
“It never crossed our mind to talk about warming up to resume play,” Vincent said. “That’s ridiculous. That’s insensitive. And that’s not a place that we should ever be in.”
Sensitivity appeared to guide Tuesday communication from the league, including with the reminder and recommitment of mental health resources league-wide.