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NFL Decides Against Rescheduling Monday Night’s Bills-Bengals Game, During Which Safety Damar Hamlin Sustained Critical Injury

The NFL (National Football League) announced on Thursday that it would not reschedule the AFC (American Football Conference) faceoff between the Cincinnati Bengals and the Buffalo Bills after Bills safety Damar Hamlin experienced a frightening collapse and then cardiac arrest during Monday night’s game, which was televised on Monday Night Football earlier this week.

The positive note to all of this is that Hamlin survived the trauma and can now communicate via writing, although he isn't yet able to speak. One of his colleagues reported that he was “awake and showing more signs of improvement.”

The game was canceled within an hour of the incident because neither the players nor the coaches wanted to go on with the event when they weren't sure if Hamlin was going to survive.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goddell explained the emotions at the league's headquarters:

“This has been a very difficult week,” Goodell stated. “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.”

Goodell met with the Bills, the Bengals, and the NFL Players Association leadership when making the decision to cancel the game. NFL.com provided his reasons:

“Not playing the Buffalo-Cincinnati game to its conclusion will have no effect on which clubs qualify for the postseason. No club would qualify for the postseason and no club will be eliminated based on the outcome of this game.

“It would require postponing the start of the playoffs for one week, thereby affecting all 14 clubs that qualify for postseason play.

“Making the decision prior to Week 18 is consistent with our competitive principles and enables all clubs to know the playoff possibilities prior to playing the final weekend of regular season games.”

Many people have said that it is not appropriate to discuss future games following this tragic event. However, the truth is that at some point, a decision must be made. Now is a good time to make those important decisions, according to many.

The NFL offers an array of complex playoff scenarios that you can explore on NFL.com. Goodell acknowledged that no result would please everyone.

“As we considered the football schedule, our principles have been to limit disruption across the league and minimize competitive inequities,” Goodell declared.“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 is the right choice from both a competitive standpoint and also a human one. In terms of football, the search for an effective way to play the game could cause all kinds of scheduling issues that could result in more problems for certain teams than others and cause chaos in the game.

Most importantly, it would have been a travesty to Hamlin, the other players, and the fans to demand a new game that would have been among the most uncomfortable games of all time. They need a chance to regroup, stand up for their teammates, and reflect on what they have just experienced.

The NFL receives a lot of criticism, and some of it is justified. However, in this case, the team has handled it in a professional and respectful manner.

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