Cincinnati Bengals head coach Zac Taylor spoke to the media on Wednesday for the very first time since Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin collapsed on the field on Monday night. Taylor was able to give a first-hand account of what happened in the minutes following Hamlin's life-threatening on-field collapse, and sent Bills head coach Sean McDermott a lot of love and praise for how he handled the situation.
To start the news conference, Taylor sent love, prayers, and support to Hamlin, his family, teammates, coaches, and the entire Bills organization on behalf of the Bengals family.
"We've always had a great deal of respect for them," Taylor said. "I think that's grown much deeper, obviously, with what we've seen transpire."
"So certainly we're pulling for Damar," Taylor continued. "Hoping for the most positive outlook, and looking forward to him seeing all the support he's getting from his team, his community, people around the league, his family. It'll be a great day when he'll be able to see that."
Taylor praises McDermott
Taylor spent several minutes discussing what went on after Hamlin, who had gone into cardiac arrest after taking a hit square to the chest, was revived and taken off the field in an ambulance. He and McDermott were able to meet very soon after the ambulance drove away, and McDermott's first words to him weren't about the game. They were about being with Hamlin.
Taylor credited McDermott for setting the tone for how everything was handled after that moment. McDermott's focus on Hamlin and his family allowed every other decision to be made with that perspective in mind.
Taylor also cleared up the kerfuffle regarding whether the NFL was urging for anything to happen — like the game restarting — directly after the ambulance left the field.
That answer will hopefully end the ongoing debate about who was right and who was wrong in an unprecedented, scary and stressful situation in which everyone involved could only do what they thought was right.
Taylor credits team captains, medical personnel, officials
McDermott was far from the only person to be praised by Taylor. He thanked all the medical personnel on the field for their vital actions in literally saving Hamlin's life.
He thanked the officials for understanding the gravity and context of the moment and "stepping back" to allow the players and coaches to process what was happening.
He revealed his team captains came to him to say they wanted to go visit with the Bills captains. It wasn't something Taylor was sure about at first, but he trusted them and it ended up being the right thing to do.
Hamlin remains in critical condition and in intensive care at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center.