New England Patriots

New England Patriots

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  • NFL commissioner Roger Goodell spoke with Marc Bertrand and Chris Gasper on 98.5 The Sports Hub ahead of the Patriots-Bills game Sunday morning. Listen above for the full interview.

    Among the topics discussed with the commissioner was a controversial story surrounding last Monday’s Bills-Bengals game, and how the league handled the suspension of play. As the game was put on hold and the teams went to their locker rooms, ESPN’s Joe Buck reported on “Monday Night Football” that there were talks of a five-minute warm-up period before a possible return to play. The game was ultimately postponed Monday night, and later cancelled altogether.

    The report was the subject of controversy, as the league came out of it appearing more concerned with finishing the game than the health of Bills safety Damar Hamlin, who suffered a cardiac arrest on the field and needing to be resuscitated via CPR and defibrillation.

    Roger Goodell in the broadcast booth at Highmark Stadium.

    Roger Goodell in the broadcast booth at Highmark Stadium. (Dennis Knudsen/98.5 The Sports Hub)

  • Goodell admitted that the league initially looked toward resuming the game, which has long been a standard set by games in which players leave with significant injuries. It quickly became clear, however, that Hamlin’s situation was more serious than a broken bone, and so the game was suspended and later postponed. Goodell said the league listened to feedback from players and coaches on both teams before deciding to call the game off.

    “That comes with a lot of discussion,” Goodell said. “The coaches, the players, they are hearing from their players, you want to get all that information. A standard practice would be to resume play, but when you get feedback that it may not be appropriate, that’s when [Executive VP of Football Ops] Troy [Vincent] made the decision to suspend play, which was the right decision, and allow everyone to go back and ‘let’s gather ourselves and get more information,’ which was clear we needed to do.

    “I made the decision to postpone shortly thereafter. But in many times we were prepared to make that decision, the players wanted to continue discussing it with their teams, and we had to give them that opportunity.”

  • It’s been a long time since Goodell or anyone in the league had the benefit of the doubt, so it’s understandable to continue looking at the commissioner with a cynical eye. The league ultimately made the right call to suspend and postpone the game, but it may not have happened without the intervention of Bills head coach Sean McDermott and Bengals head coach Zac Taylor.

    Even if it’s a mischaracterization to suggest that the league was going to force the Bills and Bengals back on the field after Hamlin’s cardiac event, it’s still not a good look that they witnessed such a traumatic scene and still their first thought was how they were going to resume the game.

    Goodell also argued that none of the league’s protocols involving health & safety or suspension of play need to be revised following the Bills-Bengals game. But it certainly seems like the situation set a new precedent for serious health situations involving players on the field.

  • ORCHARD PARK, NEW YORK - JANUARY 08: NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell walks onto the field wearing a #3 hat for Damar Hamlin prior to the game between the New England Patriots and the Buffalo Bills at Highmark Stadium on January 08, 2023 in Orchard Park, New York. (Photo by Bryan M. Bennett/Getty Images)

    ORCHARD PARK, NEW YORK – JANUARY 08: NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell walks onto the field wearing a #3 hat for Damar Hamlin prior to the game between the New England Patriots and the Buffalo Bills at Highmark Stadium on January 08, 2023 in Orchard Park, New York. (Photo by Bryan M. Bennett/Getty Images)

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