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The NFL says that the Buffalo Bills-Cincinnati Bengals game that was suspended Monday night following the hospitalization of Bills player Damar Hamlin has been canceled outright.
Commissioner Roger Goodell said it made the call not to try and complete the game after speaking with both teams and the NFL Players Association.
“This has been a very difficult week,” Goodell said in a statement. “We continue to focus on the recovery of Damar Hamlin and are encouraged by the improvements in his condition as well as the tremendous outpouring of support and care for Damar and his family from across the country. We are also incredibly appreciative of the amazing work of the medical personnel and commend each and every one of them.”
Hamlin was showing “remarkable improvement,” the Bills and medical personnel said Thursday. On Friday morning, the team shared that, per the physicians at UCMC, the player’s breathing tube was removed overnight and his neurologic function remained intact, as he has been able to talk to his family and care team. Hamlin also FaceTimed into the team meeting Friday and told the players and coaches, “Love you boys.”
Hamlin collapsed on the field during the Monday Night Football game in the first quarter, and, after CPR was administered on the field, was transported to a local hospital and admitted to the ICU.
The league noted that the outcome of the game would not impact which teams made the postseason but would require delaying the postseason by a week and impact which teams would potentially host the AFC Championship Game.
And so, with the major change to the league’s schedule, Goodell also said that the NFL will consider hosting the AFC Championship Game at a neutral site, depending on which teams make it that far.
On Friday, a special league meeting will discuss and vote to approve the different scenarios, some of which will see the Championship being played at a neutral site, and others that could see the game being played per standard scheduling protocols.
“As we considered the football schedule, our principles have been to limit disruption across the league and minimize competitive inequities,” Goodell added. “I recognize that there is no perfect solution. The proposal we are asking the ownership to consider, however, addresses the most significant potential equitable issues created by the difficult, but necessary, decision not to play the game under these extraordinary circumstances.”
This story originally posted Jan. 5, 6:27 p.m. It has been updated with the Bills’ tweets about Hamlin’s Friday improvement.
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Robert De Niro