Two days after Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin collapsed due to cardiac arrest during the first quarter of the team’s primetime game against the Cincinnati Bengals on Monday Night Football, it remains unclear when or if the AFC matchup which holds key playoff-seeding implications will be rescheduled.
The NFL released a statement on Tuesday that announced the Bill-Bengals game would not be played this week, and on Wednesday, January 4, ESPN’s Adam Schefter shed light on two possible routes the league could take in rescheduling the matchup, while NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport offered a third option.
Schefter said during an appearance on First Take, “Obviously, everybody is waiting and hoping and praying for Damar Hamlin before they play any games, but beyond that – there are really two options for the National Football League. The first would be, they could simply say, ‘We’re going to play that game. In fact, somebody yesterday said to me, ‘There’s bad mojo around that game.’ That they don’t need to play it. They should move on.”
Schefter acknowledges that canceling the game could be seen as unfair to particular fan bases. However, “I think what we saw this week, life is not fair,” the NFL insider said. “That’s the way it sometimes goes, and sometimes in those particular cases, they are two games that only play 16 games this season.”
The second option would be to shift the playoff schedule to squeeze in the Bill-Bengals Week 17 game. “Let’s keep in mind there’s a week between the conference championship games and the Super Bowl for the Pro Bowl skills challenge,” Schefter notes, “The league could always opt to push back a certain week of the playoff schedule to that week. There’s cushion there if that’s what the league wants to do.
“There’s been two other years where the NFL postponed and rescheduled games. It was the year of 9/11, which everybody remembers and of course, the year of the pandemic, where there were 15 games rescheduled… But my sense would be if and when these games go on this weekend, the league takes a look [at] where the league is, where Damar is at, and then makes a decision as to what’s in the best interest of the National Football League.”
Rapoport shared a similar sentiment but offered a third possible option on how to proceed with the Bill-Bengals matchup, and that would declare the game a tie. “There’s commissioner’s discretion there,” Rapoport said. “And then the standings would be as they are… with winning percentage determining who gets the byes and all the other factors.”
NFL Exec Said, ‘There May Be a Lack of Equity’ in Deciding How to Move Forward With Bills-Bengals Game
NFL executive Troy Vincent also spoke out about the rescheduling issues on Wednesday. Vincent said, “Everything is being considered,” per per Rapooprt, noting the league will look toward “the guiding principles that took us into the 2020 season with COVID” to figure things out.
“Potentially, there may be a lack of equity, and it may not be perfect, but it would allow those who have earned that opportunity to continue to play,’ Vincent said, per ESPN‘s Dan Graziano. “It may not be perfect, but will allow those participating to be able to play.” NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero noted that Vincent and the league are factoring in the “value of winning and winning percentage” with their decision-making process.
According to Boston Globe‘s Ben Volin, Vincent got extremely emotional during his presser while discussing the much-disputed report that the NFL pushed for the Bill-Bengals game to continue on Monday, January 2. Volin tweeted, “Vincent, fighting through tears: ‘It was just so insensitive to think that we were even thinking about returning to play… The only thing that mattered to myself, the team here, the folks in the stadium and the coaches was the health and wellness of Damar.”
Moving the Bills’ Week 18 Matchup vs. Patriots ‘Hasn’t Been Discussed’: Report
As it stands, the Bills will face their Week 18 opponent, the New England Patriots, first. Buffalo is set to host the Patriots at Highmark Stadium at 1 p.m. ET on Sunday, January 8.
CBS Sports reporter Jeff Howe tweeted on Wednesday, “I asked NFL EVP Troy Vincent if the Bills have discussed whether they want to play this week or resume this game. He said all discussions to this point with the Bills have been focused solely on Damar Hamlin’s well-being and the mental health of all involved with the Bills.”
ESPN‘s Alaina Getzenberg noted how Vincent said, ‘They will let the Bills, coach Sean McDermott guide them in terms of a potential decision about delaying Bills-Patriots. Said that it hasn’t been discussed, again, focus on everyone’s well-being.”