No changes were made to the Week 18 NFL schedule as the league prepares to navigate next steps toward returning to the playing field.
Commissioner Roger Goodell outlined evolving plans Tuesday in a memo sent to the NFL’s 32 teams, relaying the league position to not resume, at least this week, Monday’s game between the Buffalo Bills and Cincinnati Bengals.
Goodell, who has autonomy in such decisions but said he is consulting the NFLPA, said the NFL remains in constant contact with both teams and medical officials at University of Cincinnati Medical Center regarding the condition of Bills safety Damar Hamlin. Hamlin, 24, was resuscitated on the field by on-site medical personnel after collapsing due to cardiac arrest. The game was postponed in the first quarter after Hamlin was transported by ambulance.
The Bills said Tuesday afternoon Hamlin was in critical condition in the intensive care unit at UCMC.
“After speaking with both teams and NFLPA leadership, I decided to postpone last night’s game and have our focus remain on Damar and his family,” Goodell said in the memo.
“Earlier today, the head of player engagement and team clinician for each club received information from Dr. Nyaka NiiLampti about mental health and support resources that are available to your players and staff. Additional resources including on-site services can be available for any club that wishes this assistance. If your club would like to make use of these additional resources, please have your player engagement lead or team clinician contact Dr. NiiLampti.
“A short time ago, and after discussions with the two teams and the NFLPA, we advised Buffalo and Cincinnati that last night’s game will not be resumed this week. No decision has been made regarding the possible resumption of the game at a later date and we have not announced any changes to this weekend’s schedule. We will promptly advise all clubs of any decisions that are made regarding these matters. If you have any questions in the meantime, please call me or any of our senior staff.”
Multiple games scheduled for Sunday involve playoff berths and playoff seeding. Cincinnati is scheduled to host the Baltimore Ravens, a game that could determine the AFC North division. The outcome of the Monday game against the Bills was intended to be the guide for the kickoff time of this week’s game.
The Bengals, Bills and Kansas City Chiefs — scheduled for the first game of Week 18 on Saturday at 4:30 p.m. ET in Las Vegas — are vying for the top spot in the AFC.
Buffalo and the New England Patriots are scheduled for a 1 p.m. ET kickoff on Sunday. That game also impacts the AFC playoff picture.
AFC South rivals Tennessee and Jacksonville can both make the playoffs depending on the outcome of other games, but the winner of their Saturday night rematch wins the division and hosts a postseason game the following weekend.
The Titans were one of the few teams who went about their normal workday business on Tuesday. But head coach Mike Vrabel said he first invited players to a team meeting and discussion about Hamlin.
–Field Level Media