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Bengals’ Zac Taylor recalls bleak talk with Bills’ Sean McDermott moments after Damar Hamlin’s collapse

Cincinnati Bengals head coach Zac Taylor shared some details of the conversation he had with Bills coach Sean McDermott during Monday night’s game.

Moments after Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin was transported off the field in an ambulance, Taylor said McDermott only had one thought on his mind.

“When I got over there, the first thing he said was, ‘I need to be at the hospital for Damar, and I shouldn’t be coaching this game,'” Taylor revealed to reporters Wednesday.

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Head coach Sean McDermott of the Buffalo Bills, right, and head coach Zac Taylor of the Cincinnati Bengals speak after Damar Hamlin of the Buffalo Bills collapsed on the field at Paycor Stadium Jan. 2, 2023, in Cincinnati.
(Dylan Buell/Getty Images)

Hamlin remains in critical condition at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center after a cardiac arrest, but he has shown signs of improvement, the Bills said in a statement Wednesday.

“He is expected to remain under intensive care as his health care team continues to monitor and treat him,” the team said.

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After Hamlin was driven out of the stadium in an ambulance and before the game was postponed, the officiating crew walked to the Bengals sideline as McDermott was still trying to sort out what happened.

A short time later, Taylor walked to Buffalo’s sideline to be a part of the conversation between the referees and McDermott.

On Wednesday, Taylor praised McDermott and the Bills for their handling of a difficult situation.

“Seeing the way he handled his team just deepened that respect for him and verified everything I always thought he was about as a man,” Taylor said.

Buffalo Bills defensive back Damar Hamlin leaves the field after a game against the New England Patriots Dec. 1, 2022, in Foxborough, Mass.

Buffalo Bills defensive back Damar Hamlin leaves the field after a game against the New England Patriots Dec. 1, 2022, in Foxborough, Mass.
(AP Photo/Greg M. Cooper, File)

In a conference call with reporters Wednesday, Troy Vincent, NFL executive vice president of football operations, said all of his conversations with McDermott were about the players’ well-being.

“My communications with the club and those players has just strictly been around making sure they’re OK, to check in,” Vincent said. “And being able to access those resources that are available to ’em. It is tough, and coach is still battling.”

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Vincent and Taylor each referenced the minutes after Hamlin left the field when it momentarily appeared the game might continue, which has been debated at length since Monday.

Taylor said there was never any communication about the game resuming. He also added that nobody was focused on whether the game was going to restart.

Head coach Zac Taylor of the Cincinnati Bengals after a game against the Buffalo Bills was suspended during the first quarter at Paycor Stadium Jan. 2, 2023 in Cincinnati.

Head coach Zac Taylor of the Cincinnati Bengals after a game against the Buffalo Bills was suspended during the first quarter at Paycor Stadium Jan. 2, 2023 in Cincinnati.
(Kirk Irwin/Getty Images)

“There’s so much that happened that I can’t really recall,” Taylor said. “My process of remembering is that’s really just what unfolded. There was no push for anything to happen.”

It remains unclear if the Bills-Bengals game will be rescheduled. The NFL said earlier this week the “game will not be resumed this week.” The focus remains on Hamlin’s health.

NFL spokesman Jeff Miller did note that a decision will be made within the next few days.

“But there’s a lot of considerations in place there and a lot of people that we want to consult with, including the clubs involved, before that decision is final,” Miller said.

Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Tee Higgins (85) runs near Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin (3) during the first half of a game Monday, Jan. 2, 2023, in Cincinnati. Hamlin collapsed on the play.

Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Tee Higgins (85) runs near Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin (3) during the first half of a game Monday, Jan. 2, 2023, in Cincinnati. Hamlin collapsed on the play.
(AP Photo/Joshua A. Bickel)

Taylor said his team is preparing to play its Week 18 game against the Ravens. The league confirmed the game has been scheduled for 1 p.m. ET in Cincinnati.

Taylor also added that football players know the game’s inherent risks.

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“This was a tough situation,” Taylor said. “My understanding based on the information we have is it’s a one in a very small chance of that happening. Players that play football know that.”


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