ESPN said it stands behind Joe Buck’s initial report claiming that the NFL planned to resume the Buffalo Bills-Cincinnati Bengals matchup after Bills safety Damar Hamlin collapsed on the field Monday night.
The Monday Night Football game between the Buffalo Bills and the Cincinnati Bengals was suspended after Damar Hamlin collapsed on the field and needed CPR before being taken to the hospital. He has since been said to be in critical condition. During the hour in which the fate of the game remained in limbo, announcer Joe Buck reported on three occasions that NFL sources had informed him that the teams would be back on the field to resume the game after a five-minute warmup period.
Shortly after the game was suspended, NFL Executive Vice President of Football Operations Troy Vincent told reporters at a press conference that Buck’s reports were “ridiculous” and “insensitive.” In response, ESPN said on Tuesday that Buck simply relayed information he received from the network’s “constant communication” with the league.
“There was constant communication in real time between ESPN and league and game officials,” the statement said. “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.”
ESPN statement regarding the discussion about a five-minute warmup pic.twitter.com/jCCGH4Folw
— Jeff Howe (@jeffphowe) January 3, 2023
Whatever information had been relayed, Bengals coach Zac Taylor said that Bills coach Sean McDermott agreed almost immediately that the game would not continue.
“When I got over there, the first thing he said was, ‘I need to be at the hospital for Damar, and I shouldn’t be coaching this game,’” Taylor relayed to reporters what McDermott told him when they met on the field.
“There’s so much that happened that I can’t really recall,” Taylor added. “My process of remembering is that’s really just what unfolded. There was no push for anything to happen.”