Isaiah Bolden Injury: Patriots, Packers Reframe Football; Damar Hamlin Lessons

Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports
Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports

It was deja vu in the worst way possible for the National Football League on Saturday night: seven months after Buffalo Bills defender Damar Hamlin collapsed on the field during a game against the Cincinnati Bengals, New England Patriots cornerback Isaiah Bolden sustained a head injury after a collision with a teammate during the fourth quarter of a preseason game against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field. This was the second time in seven months that a player had suffered a similar injury.

After Bolden was helped off the field in a stretcher, the game was called off or put on hold nearly immediately. With 10 minutes and 38 seconds remaining in the game’s fourth quarter, the Patriots held a 21-17 lead.
An announcement made by New England stated that Bolden “had feeling in all of his extremities” but that he “will be held overnight at a local hospital in Green Bay for observation.” On Sunday morning at eight o’clock, the team intends to deliver an update on Bolden’s condition.

It is easy to forget the nearly catastrophic response that was so close to being made to the issue after so much has happened in the world of the NFL since the occurrence involving Hamlin’s cardiac arrest.

After a delay of over an hour, which was caused by the removal of Hamlin from the pitch at Paycor Stadium during a significant AFC matchup between his Buffalo Bills and the Cincinnati Bengals, the original intention was to give players a five-minute warm-up before continuing the game. However, the delay was extended to nearly an hour. Before the game was finally called off, head coaches Sean McDermott and Zac Taylor removed their teams from the field and escorted them into the locker room while they were fuming in silence at the absurdity of the plan. They did this because they were concerned about the mental health of their players.
Following and expanding the lead that McDermott and Taylor started, Bill Belichick and Packers coach Matt LaFleur did not even let the game to reach the five-minute mark that had been established in Cincinnati earlier. Tragically providing a precedent for how to respond to such a circumstance, the respective executives of New England and Green Bay decided to call off the game entirely, putting an end to everything that was going on.

If there are any teams in the NFL that may benefit from the preseason trio’s remaining benefits, it would have to be New England and Green Bay because both of those teams are looking to replace legendary talents at the centre position.

However, for everyone’s health, both emotional and physical, an early dismissal was ordered.

Belichick is both equally loved and hated for his icy sideline demeanour. Patriots special teams captain Matthew Slater personally commended Belichick for the call to end a rather inconsequential preseason game.

Slater was quoted as saying, “I really appreciate what Coach Belichick did,” by Zack Cox of NESN. “He is the one who took the initiative in that matter. Listen, this is hardly the American Football Championship Series. We aren’t playing for any records at this point. It’s Game 2 of the preseason! When something like that happens, it has a ripple effect that affects a lot of guys in a variety of different ways. What took place clearly had a significant impact on our team, and I believe that Coach made the correct option.
Since he took over as New England’s head coach at the turn of the century, Bill Belichick has built an impressive collection of trophies and an impressive resume. Not much more needs to be said about either. The performance on Saturday completely overshadowed all of the other awards.

“I believe that demonstrates a huge amount of leadership on his part. As a player who has worked for him for the past 16 years, I can state without a doubt that witnessing what he accomplished was among the most gratifying experiences I’ve ever had. According to Slater. “There was not the slightest bit of doubt. I also want to express my gratitude to Coach LaFleur for supporting him in this. I believe that everyone responded quickly, and that was the appropriate course of action given the circumstances.”
Time will tell if the combined exercise in common sense that was conducted by Belichick and LaFleur will lead to bigger debates, particularly ones regarding the necessity of the ever-increasingly worthless NFL preseason. However, in that time, the compassion shown by the two coaches provided a modest measure of solace and allowed the healing process to start almost immediately.

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