NFL suspends Patriots-Packers exhibition game after player suffers frightening injury

For the second time in less than a year, the NFL suspended a game due to a frightening medical situation on the field.

The preseason contest between the New England Patriots and the Green Bay Packers was suspended in the fourth quarter after Patriots rookie cornerback Isaiah Bolden collided with teammate Calvin Munson while making a tackle.

Bolden, 23, collapsed to the turf and was completely motionless as trainers rushed to his aid — the player was eventually carted off the field on a stretcher as players from both teams looked on.

On a positive note, Bolden did have feelings in his extremities and was released from a local hospital after being held overnight for evaluation.

“After undergoing a series of evaluations and being held for overnight observations, Patriots cornerback Isaiah Bolden has been released from the Aurora Bay Medical Center in Green Bay, Wisconsin, where he was transported to after sustaining an on-field injury in the fourth quarter of Saturday night’s preseason game between the New England Patriots and the Green Bay Packers,” the team said in a release. “Isaiah will travel with the team today. We thank the medical staff at Aurora Bay Medical Center for their overnight evaluations, as well as the Patriots and Packers medical staffs for their immediate on-field response and care in transporting Isaiah to a nearby hospital.”

In January, a Monday night game between the Buffalo Bills and the Cincinnati Bengals was postponed after Bills’ safety Damar Hamlin went into cardiac arrest on the field — that game was never resumed. In another positive development, Hamlin returned to the field last weekend having fully recovered.

As trainers attended to Bolden, Patriots coach Bill Belichick, Packers coach Matt Lafleur, and New England captain Matthew Slater were seen huddling up. Belichick, a six-time Super Bowl-winning coach, then spoke with NFL referee John Hussey, who suspended play.

“He took the initiative on that,” Slater told reporters, speaking of his head coach. “This is not the AFC Championship. We are not playing for records. It’s preseason game 2. You have an injury like that, it affects a lot of guys in a lot of different ways. Clearly our team was shaken by what happened.”

“I think Coach made the right decision. I think, you know, that was tremendous leadership by him,” he added. “I have to say, honestly, that was one of the proudest moments I’ve had as a guy who has played for him for, now, 16 years. There was no hesitation. I appreciate Coach Lafleur for standing with him on that.”

The question is, going forward, will every NFL game where a serious injury occurs be suspended?

Football is still a violent sport despite a myriad of new rules designed to better protect players, and injuries will occur. And while player safety is important, suspending a game after a player is injured is geared more toward the sensibilities of the other players. Somehow, we suspect the legendary John Madden would say let’s finish the game!


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Tom Tillison


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