Aaron Rodgers Bashes NFL’s Response to Damar Hamlin Incident

Aaron Rodgers Packers

Getty Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers.

As one of the biggest names in the NFL, Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers hasn’t been afraid to speak his mind, and he aired out some of his frustrations with the league’s response to the Damar Hamlin incident.

On Monday, January 2, the Monday Night Football game between the Buffalo Bills and Cincinnati Bengals was postponed after Hamlin suffered cardiac arrest on the field after tackling Bengals WR Tee Higgins in the first quarter. While Hamlin remains in critical condition as of Thursday, January 5, there are still some questions surrounding the league’s response immediately following the incident.

One of the bigger talking points following Hamlin’s cardiac arrest has been the report that players and coaches on the field were told that they would be given a five-minute warmup before resuming the game rather than calling it off. Rodgers himself was upset with that response, talking about it during his media availability on Wednesday, January 4.

“Whoever said five minutes should have their job evaluated I think,” Rodgers said. “It’s pretty evident that the league talks about player safety, but they added an extra game that was all about money. It had nothing to do with player safety…This was a black eye for the league, and they have got to do better next time.”

NFL Denies Telling Players That Bills-Bengals Game Would Resume

Despite frustrations from fans and players across the league about the incident, the NFL is refuting the claims that the initial plan was for the Bills-Bengals game, which took over an hour to be postponed, to carry on following Hamlin’s hospitalization.

During the Monday Night Football broadcast, ESPN commentator Joe Buck reported at least four times on air that the players would be given five minutes to warm up before restarting play.

“As we said, they’ve been given five minutes to quote-unquote ‘get ready’ to go back to playing. That’s the word we get from the league and the word we get from down on the field,” Buck stated at one point.

However, speaking to the media in the early morning hours of January 3, the NFL’s executive vice president of football operations Troy Vincent shot down that claim.

“I’m not sure where that came from,” Vincent said. “Frankly, there was no time period for the players to get warmed up. Frankly, the only thing that we asked was that [referee] Shawn [Smith] 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. So I’m not sure where that came from. Five-minute warmup never crossed my mind, personally…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 that we should ever be in.”

ESPN also released a statement on January 3 standing by its on-air reporting.

Latest on Damar Hamlin’s Recovery

With fans, players, coaches, and everyone else involved with the NFL anxiously waiting on updates surrounding Hamlin, they were given some positive news on Thursday, January 5.

According to a Bills team statement at 10:28 a.m. Eastern, the 24-year-old has shown “remarkable improvement” in the last 24 hours. Along with making “steady progress,” Hamlin’s physicians also shared that the young Bills player, who is now awake, appears to be “neurologically intact,” although he still remains in critical condition.

A member of the Bills’ medical staff has been recognized for their efforts in saving Hamlin’s life on the field. Albert Breer with Sports Illustrated shared that Buffalo assistant athletic trainer Danny Kellington‘s quick response in administering CPR for nearly 10 minutes was vital in the response to Hamlin’s on-field cardiac arrest.

Updates for Hamlin will continue to trickle in, but fans, as well as big names around the NFL, are continuing to show their support for the Bills’ second-year safety by donating to his community toy drive, which has raised over $7 million from more than 200,000 donors since the incident.