Bengals Coach Reveals What Sean McDermott Said After Damar Hamlin’s Collapse

Zac Taylor, Sean McDermott

Getty Bills head coach Sean McDermott speaks to Bengals head coach Zac Taylor during the suspension of their game following the injury of Damar Hamlin at Paycor Stadium on January 02, 2023 in Cincinnati, Ohio.

When Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin collapsed due to cardiac arrest during the first quarter of their Monday Night Football matchup against the Cincinnati Bengals, the world seemed to pause.

The scene at Paycor Stadium while Hamlin received emergency medical treatment on the field following a collision with Bengals wide receiver Tee Higgins was traumatic. While Hamlin stood up and took a few shaky steps after the hit, he then fell to the ground.

Bills quarterback Josh Allen, wide receiver Stefon Diggs, and the entire Bills roster were visibly emotional as the team created a prayer circle around Hamlin. The Pittsburgh alum left the field via ambulance at approximately 9:10 p.m. Eastern time and reached UC Medical Center at around 9:25 p.m. Eastern time, per The Athletic.

The game was temporarily suspended for about 30 minutes before it was officially postponed. Amid the uncertainty, the Bengals head coach Zac Taylor crossed the field to discuss things with Bills head coach Sean McDermott, who like his players, was struggling to stay strong. During his first press conference since Hamlin was hospitalized, Taylor fought through his emotions on Wednesday, January 4, to shed light on what the two coaches discussed, and how he came to the conclusion that game could not possibly continue that night.

“It was determined to just take a few moments as teams to just process what happened, separate, and go to the sidelines… because no one had that chance,” Taylor told reporters during his January 4 press conference. “I looked at Sean and those players, all they were doing is looking at their teammate, their brother, and hoping for the best. That was the only thing going through their minds.”

Taylor said he initially didn’t talk to anyone after having seen the faces of Allen, safety Jordan Poyer, and more “processing of how awful the situation was.” Taylor gave credit to the officials of the game. “They did a great job of coming over to me and saying, ‘Hey, they’re still they’re trying to process this moment here… so, instead of playing of telephone on separate sidelines, the decision was to go over there and talk together.”

While Taylor said he won’t reveal everything McDermott said out of respect and privacy, “When I got over there, the first thing he said was, ‘I need to be at the hospital for Damar. I shouldn’t be coaching this game.’ That, to me, provides all the clarity… In that moment, he showed that all his focus was on Damar, being there for him and being there with his family at the hospital.”

Taylor also gave much credit to the emergency responders who quickly attended to Hamlin. “Taylor lauds the medical and athletic training staffs for their quick, efficient work Monday night,” NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo tweeted. “They were prepared. They gave Damar the best chance. I was really impressed and thankful for the work they put in to be ready for moments like that.”

Zac Taylor Confirmed Coaches Let the Team Captains Make the Final Decision to Play or Not

The game was officially postponed shortly after 10 p.m. Eastern time on Monday, January 2, and on Tuesday afternoon, details of what was happening inside the respective team’s locker rooms started to emerge. The Athletic’s Mike DeFabo tweeted, “Bengals long snapper Cal Adomitis, who played with Damar Hamlin at Central Catholic and Pitt, said that when Cincy was updated on Hamlin’s status, Joe Burrow was the first one to speak up and ask if the team could visit the Bills locker room to express their support/ concern.”

As for Buffalo’s side, Bally Sports reporter Michael Silver spoke with Bills tight end Tommy Sweeney, who was not active for Buffalo’s Week 17 matchup but was present on the sidelines.

“It was shock for a while on the field, and then when they told us to go in everybody had their own way of looking at it,” Sweeney told Silver. “Josh and the captains (led a discussion). It would have had to have been a unanimous thing for us to go back out, and it definitely wasn’t gonna be (that mindset) for most people.”

While Taylor knew what the decision had to be regarding continuing to play or not after speaking with McDermott, the 39-year-old head coach said on Wednesday that he and McDermott let the final call come from the players.

Garafolo tweeted, “Zac said he wasn’t sure if letting his captains talk to Bills captains was right at the time. Asked Sean. They allowed it and instantly knew it was the right decision. Says he has a ton of respect for the Bills captains who came out and they all handled it with class.”

The Latest Update on Damar Hamlin: Bills Safety Remains in Critical Condition on January 4

While the NFL excused both the Bills and their Week 18 opponent, the New England Patriots, from speaking with the media on Wednesday, Buffalo delivered an official update on the 24-year-old health status via Twitter. The statement read, “Damar remains in the ICU in critical condition with signs of improvement noted yesterday and overnight. He is expected to remain under intensive care as his health care team continues to monitor and treat him.”

ESPN‘s Cole Harvey also provided an update after speaking with Hamlin’s close friend and marketing rep, Jordon Rooney. Harvey tweeted, “Per Jordon and Damar’s family, doctors overnight got promising readings that they had been hoping to see by this morning. Jordon couldn’t go into specifics, but progress appears to be made.”

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