An investigation has revealed where ESPN announcer Joe Buck got the information pertaining to the NFL wanting to resume play after Damar Hamlin collapsed during the game between the Buffalo Bills and Cincinnati Bengals last Monday.
The fixture ended up being postponed and has since been canceled. But, according to Buck and members of ESPN, the league wanted the players to warm up so they could continue the game once Damar was off the field.
The league denied this outright, with NFL executive vice president of football operations Troy Vincent claiming no such thing was relayed to the broadcast crew. While games have resumed and the playoffs are now set, the issue still looms.
ESPN senior writer Don Van Natta Jr. has scribed a lengthy piece in which he goes into detail on last Monday’s events. Van Natta claims several sources have told ESPN that the plan to resume play came from a senior NFL rules analyst, who was inside the NFL command center at the time.
The message was conveyed to officiating expert John Parry, who was on duty in the ESPN broadcast booth. Buck, in turn, told viewers the game would continue on four separate occasions.
“Joe, just talked with New York in the command center,” Parry said live. “The situation has risen to a point where they want to give both teams, coaches, personnel, an opportunity to go back into the locker room, regroup themselves and so the game has temporarily been suspended to give them the opportunity — whatever they need at this point, teams are driving it.”
ESPN has also since refuted Vincent’s claims with the following statement:
There was constant communication in real time between ESPN and league and game officials. As a result of that, we reported what we were told in the moment and immediately updated fans as new information was learned. This was an unprecedented, rapidly-evolving circumstance. All night long, we refrained from speculation.
Parry has declined comment, only stating “The ESPN statement was accurate.”
As for Buck, the sportscaster said he was surprised to hear Vincent deny the information regarding resumption came from the NFL. He’s also pointed out that the league would have corrected him immediately had he disseminated an incorrect message on live television.
“If what I said on national TV with the eyes of the world watching was wrong in the view of the league, I would have been corrected — immediately,” he noted. “And I was not.”
“I can’t imagine what was going on in that room and the different scenarios and the heartache in that command center,” Buck added. “It’s unprecedented, what we all witnessed and went through. Nothing is going to be perfect.
“I just know that we went with the information we were given by the league. I went on the air with a piece of information by John Parry through an open line of communication with the league that they gave us in real time.”
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