ESPN, NFL Release Conflicting Statements About ‘Five-Minute Warmup’ Period

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After Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin collapsed on the Cincinnati Bengals field on Monday night, medical personnel performed CPR and then removed him via ambulance. The scene played out live on ESPN.

Although everyone’s thoughts were on Hamlin’s health, there was discussion about continuing the Monday Night Football contest between the Bills and Bengals. ESPN play-by-play announcer Joe Buck told the audience that players would be given five minutes to warm up and then play would resume.

According to OutKick’s Armando Salguero, who was at the stadium, the Bills defense even took the field after Hamlin was taken off. They set up near where the next play would have taken place. However, the Bengals offense never retook the field.

Buffalo Bills players and staff kneel together in solidarity after Damar Hamlin sustained an injury against the Cincinnati Bengals. The defense took the field after the team meeting and ESPN reported the teams had five minutes to get ready for the resumption of play.
Buffalo Bills players and staff kneel together in solidarity after Damar Hamlin sustained an injury against the Cincinnati Bengals. The defense took the field after the team meeting and ESPN reported the teams had five minutes to get ready for the resumption of play. (Photo by Kevin Sabitus/Getty Images)

Salguero also reported that while the Bills defense was on the field, referee Shawn Smith went to Bengals head coach Zac Taylor and then to Bills head coach Sean McDermott. Following these conversations, players from both teams left the field and headed into the locker room.

NFL disputes report of a five-minute warmup

As Salguero previously reported, the NFL has vehemently denied ESPN’s report that the league told players they would have five minutes to warmup and then resume play.

“I’m not sure where that came from,” Executive Vice President for Football Operations Troy Vincent said. “Frankly, there was no time period for the players to get warmed up. The only thing we asked was for Shawn to 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.

“I’m not sure where that came from of five minutes warmup. That never crossed my mind, personally. And I’m not saying I to be selfish but I was the one 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 we should ever be in.”

ESPN releases statement defending their reporting

ESPN responded to the NFL’s claims about their incorrect reporting. Their statement says, “There was constant communication in real time between ESPN and league and game officials.

“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.”

We will probably never know what really happened here. It was a constantly changing situation for which neither the NFL nor ESPN had a playbook on how to proceed. It’s possible this was a simple miscommunication.

But it’s noteworthy that the NFL denies the report and ESPN defended its reporting. There have been past issues between the two companies that seemed to have been squashed.

We’ll see if this new discrepancy causes any friction between the two.


Follow Dan Zaksheske on Twitter: @OutkickDanZ

Written by Dan Zaksheske

Dan began his sports media career at ESPN, where he survived for nearly a decade. Once the Stockholm Syndrome cleared, he made his way to Outkick. He is secure enough in his masculinity to admit he is a cat-enthusiast with three cats, one of which is named “Brady” because his wife wishes she were married to Tom instead of him.

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