O’Neil: Potential Solution For NFL Schedule Following Damar Hamlin Incident

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The NFL league office is properly paying full respect and attention to Damar Hamlin while privately considering how/when to finish its regular season and begin the post-season.

Here’s a thought:

· Play ten Week 18 games, including Patriots-Bills and Ravens-Bengals, this weekend.

· Play the other six next weekend plus a resumption of Bills-Bengals. Call it Week 19.

· Only the Bills and Bengals will play both Week 18 and 19.

Foxborough, MA – December 1: New England Patriots LB Mack Wilson Sr. tries to sack Buffalo Bills QB Josh Allen. The Patriots lost to the Bills, 24-10. (Photo by Jim Davis/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

With ten games, all television commitments can be filled in Week 18. Unchanged will be the currently scheduled Saturday games, late Sunday afternoon doubleheader games and Sunday night game. The 1pm Sunday games will be limited to Patriots-Bills and Ravens-Bengals.

ORCHARD PARK, NY – SEPTEMBER 19: Damar Hamlin #3 of the Buffalo Bills after a game against the Tennessee Titans at Highmark Stadium on September 19, 2022 in Orchard Park, New York. (Photo by Timothy T Ludwig/Getty Images)

This revision simply results in FOX and CBS, in their 1pm Sunday time period, will be regionalizing two games instead of eight. Because advertisers pay according to broadcast windows, no revenue is lost by the networks. And given the appeal of Patriots-Bills and Ravens-Bengals, ratings are sure to be strong.

The six games postponed from Week 18 plus the resumption of Bills-Bengals will form the Week 19 schedule. All seven are hosted at sites in the Eastern and Central time so they can be played simultaneously in the 1 pm ET Sunday window. (There will be no Saturday games, no late Sunday afternoon game, no Sunday night, no Monday night.) ESPN will be permitted to roll its remaining commercials from the interrupted Monday night game. In the other six games, however, no commercials will be aired.

Nobody should profit from the rescheduling of these six games. This can be a national viewing event, bringing the football community together in support of Damar Hamlin. In-game television breaks can be reduced and programmed with well-produced vignettes of Damar’s life, tributes from family/friends and prayers for him.

Begin the playoffs one week late. Eliminate the dark week between championship games and Super Bowl.

Written by Terry O'Neil


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  1. I like this idea. It benefits fans and the TV networks both. My alternative would have been for Buffalo and Cincinnati to play this coming weekend and then come back in “Week 19” with all the games that were originally scheduled for Week 18.

  2. Reasonable except the part about being commercial free.

    “No commercials will be aired. Nobody should profit from this extra slate of games.” These games would have been played anyways and, yes, they would have had commercials. Why you think these games are suddenly _extra_ is beyond me… Sounds like an anti-capitalist lib wrote that line.

  3. The timing part of this is fine, but obviously there would be completely normal commercials during the games. They are already scheduled games the advertisers have paid for. Also, no on the tributes to Hamlin during the games – that’s basically like a funeral and admitting he’s not going to make it. Just say a prayer and play.

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