Packers head coach Matt LaFleur began his briefing with the media Wednesday with a lengthy opening statement on Damar Hamlin.
LaFleur said Green Bay Packers players will have access to specialists after practices throughout the week if anyone needs help coping.
The coach said he wasn’t watching Monday night’s game, but quickly learned what happened and began discussing the situation with other Packers coaches.
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Hamlin’s situation is affecting teams across the league. While he acknowledged that injuries are a part of football, LaFleur said he had «never seen anything like it» that happened to Hamlin.
«What we all witnessed Monday night,» LaFleur said, «was a sad deal. It was very traumatic and it puts into perspective what we do and how that supersedes anything in life, it’s just the health and safety of these players. , and everyone’s health and safety. That was hard to watch. Obviously, our thoughts and prayers are with Damar Hamlin and her family and the Buffalo Bills.»
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Hamlin has shown «signs of improvement» since he was rushed to the hospital after going into cardiac arrest during a game, the team said Wednesday.
«Damar remains in the ICU in critical condition with signs of improvement noted yesterday and overnight,» the team said in a post on Twitter.
«He is expected to remain in intensive care while his healthcare team continues to monitor and treat him.»
As the Packers met Wednesday morning to begin preparations for Sunday’s game against the Detroit Lions, a game the team must win to advance to the playoffs, LaFleur spoke to the players about what happened to Hamlin.
The Packers haven’t missed the postseason during LaFleur’s tenure.
As the team prepares to play, Hamlin remains on the minds of Packers players, LaFleur said. He said it was a «very, very quiet» room, everyone still trying to process the severity of Hamlin’s medical condition.
LaFleur said he asked one of the Packers’ team coaches to address the players at the Wednesday morning meeting. The fourth-year head coach then put things in perspective by sharing his priorities with the players.
«I just tried to speak from my heart,» LaFleur said, «in terms of how serious and how hard it was to watch. You knew something was off with the amount of time it took to get him into an ambulance.» And how often do you see an ambulance in the field? It definitely replaces the importance of any type of game. You’re talking about life.»
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LaFleur said he texted Bills coach Sean McDermott on Monday and spoke with Bengals coach Zac Taylor. LaFleur worked on the same coaching staff with Taylor in 2017 when they both worked for the Rams.
The NFL has announced that week 18 games will continue as scheduled.
«I’ve had a couple of trainers ask [about delaying games]. … It’s what the league decides,” LaFleur said. “I think the league made the obviously correct decision the other night to postpone or cancel. [Monday Night Football].»
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The coach acknowledged that playing a game on Sunday will be a challenge.
«It’s not easy,» LaFleur said, «but you’ve got to do the best job you can. I think what’s important is that I think every team is dealing with this right now. I mean, we all are. And he talks about the brotherhood of this league, and how important these guys are to each other and the compassion we have for one another.»