January 3, 2023 6:45 pm
Zach discusses the Damar Hamlin injury with Sal Capaccio who was on the Buffalo sideline last night
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It is the Zach Gelb show on CBS Sports Radio as we continue to react to what did unfold last night in Cincinnati between the Bills and the Bengals involving Damar Hamlin.
Someone that was on the sideline last night was also on the team plane is Sal Cappaccio, the longtime Bills sideline reporter. Sal, I wish we were talking under better circumstances obviously. Thank you so much for joining us and hope you're doing well and hanging in there okay.
Yeah no problem Zach. Been a long tough you know 24 hours a little less than that I guess. You know everybody here is still obviously feeling the effects and thinking about Damar. How did you process it last night when you're on the sideline and a lot of us just didn't know what was going on and then you slowly see obviously you've been on the sideline what was occurring?
Well you know there's two parts of it right. It's the professional part and the personal part and as it's happening I'm live on the air and they're throwing it down to me on the field and I'm trying to describe everything that I'm seeing and you know that's happening and I'm seeing these players who are larger than life and tougher than life and they're you know so emotional and you're trying to comprehend that and seeing that and you know what's happening on the field but at the same time you know I'm also kind of witnessing something that is just horrific and I never thought I'd ever see in a game or think about ever seeing a game and hope I never do again but you know you have to concentrate on doing the job and at that moment I have to be an observer and a source of information to our listeners. So processing it was probably more so from the professional side at the point at that time whereas I would say this morning it's more from the personal side and I'm getting up and I'm kind of putting myself back in that moment and it's kind of you know hitting you know what happened last night what I witnessed and now I'm also seeing some of the images even beyond what I saw on the field last night because I didn't see some of the personal shots you guys saw from TV like I might not have seen like Josh Allen and Joe Burrow I didn't see them off to the side and embracing each other and things like that I'm seeing even more of that reaction from last night and that that's made it a little bit tougher today.
Yeah I'm sitting in the studio last night and obviously we're on the air so we don't have the sound on but we have the TV on and they keep on taking breaks and coming on back. You obviously knew something was wrong but we've seen players before get taken off on stretchers taken off on an ambulance but when they came back Sal and they showed Josh Allen's face it was just a blank stare and he was as white as a ghost and and that's when I really knew how bad that this was. Yeah so it started off you know as you know that DeMar collapsed and it's not that we've never seen that before I've seen that kind of thing happen before the field we all have because usually if a guy gets knocked out or the head injury that can happen right and you know it's serious but I saw him collapse and then what happened was you saw the Bengals players basically motioning to the trainers to come out as fast as possible that's the first step of okay something's a little bit more serious here but even then you know you've seen those kinds of things happen then they're working on them and I look in and I'm like boy are they are they doing CPR on him like it looked like it but I couldn't tell because you couldn't tell and see because there were a lot of bodies around there people you know you know doing what they had to do and and then I thought there's no way like they're not performing CPR on a guy in the middle of football field they have to be cutting off his face mask because he must have a neck injury that's what I thought come to find out it's bull right I mean they were doing CPR and they had confidence face mask for obvious reasons then you started to see the emotion started pouring from players faces and that's when it became what you just said like you see Josh I I will tell you Saran Neal, Jaquan Johnson guys like that Turdavious White and think about that's the DB room those are those are his guys those are the guys that he goes to the meetings with every day that that they're they're closer than anybody in the team really they spend more time than anybody those are guys even more family than even you know even though the team is family those guys spend all that time together you know they were very very emotional but I'm going to tell you what really made it for me Zach the the when it got to the point of oh my god this is horrific and something I've never seen before the entire bill sideline came off the sideline and went on the field and what they did was they formed a big circle a perimeter around Damar Hamlin and the medical team and what they did they did it with their backs towards him so that they were facing out around the whole circle and they were locked in with their shoulders or their arms and they were holding each other and they were crying and they were kneeling but they're all right there and you and the reason they did that you could tell they did not want anyone to see in to see what was happening and how they were working on Damar and that told me a lot.
Sal Capaccio here with us did you see his mother at all on the field last night? I did I tweeted about it because it's one of the more emotional moments and one of the moments that will be embedded in my brain for a long long time while the team was out on the field I look over I'm still on the sidelines and I see a woman at the base of the wall and she's talking with security and a little bit animated with her hands and she's wearing a blue number three bills jersey and you know that's the Mars number and I could hear her say that's my son and she wanted to come on the field to be with her son and she sees me and she sees a couple other people and she's trying to kind of get people's attention because she wants to come down you know I can't really help her and there's something I can do but I turn around and um and where she was there was no access to the field where she was at the base of the wall but I turn around and I see Dane Jackson now Dane Jackson played at Pitt with DeMar and now he's his teammate here in Buffalo and Dane must have known where DeMar's family was because he was looking and he saw her and he got the attention of the team chaplain and player director player development and he went over and between him and bill security and the Bengal stadium security they were able to get her navigated to an area where she could go down into the um under the in the field area basically into the tunnel to meet the ambulance when it got over there. Sal Capaccio here with us last night like I was probably up until three in the morning watching all the coverage on ESPN and you saw the shot of Stefan Diggs I guess he took an uber from the stadium to the uh to the to the hospital um you know I know Stefan Diggs has been such a big part in that locker room but that was a scene Sal that that I'll never forget because you know obviously you knew that some players were going to go over to the hospital but just see Stefan Diggs having you know to walk up to that hospital it really did uh kind of put the situation into what it was was unfolding to be. Yeah for sure and you know as it was reported by um I think it was Coley Harvey who reported that every ESPN said that Stefan was initially turned away by one of the cops and at the hospital and he had to explain hey that's my teammate in there I want to go in and Coley even said he had to tell the cop like this Stefan Diggs one of the best receivers in the NFL his teammates in there and they ultimately let him in um when we left the stadium as a group as a team I'm on the team charter uh we we waited quite a while to even get on the bus and they didn't want anybody even going in the locker room or even near the locker room so we waited till that was cleared out then we all got on the bus and we were there probably on the bus for over an hour and I'm pretty sure that's because they were waiting for everybody to come back from the hospital even Diggs coach McDermott because everybody flew back with the team except for Damar obviously who is still in intensive care excuse me at the hospital and I believe GM Brandon Bean stayed back as well.
Sal Cappaccio here with us I know that it's such a private situation so I understand if you can't get into much detail but the flight back and just conversations that you had with players if any at all on the flight back what was the flight like? Um yeah I can't really disclose any of that when I'm on the team charter but I would just say that anytime you have a night game anyway you're gonna have people basically exhausted falling asleep flying through the night it's gonna be pretty quiet and obviously you can imagine you know there wasn't much conversation through the entire trip I'll start just from the coming out of the media room you know people on their phones maybe you know I know I called my wife to give her an update on what was going on but other than that I don't really talk to anybody but you know it was quiet the whole way through until we got home I'll say that. The human emotion of this I know football right we make it out to be the biggest thing in the world and we think athletes are invincible and we just expect them to show up each and every week but you forget about the relationships that this team has and you know I know a few of the Bills players I don't know how close of a group that is the mental health side of this Sal is going to be a big one because you talked about the circle that they were making around DeMar Hamlin and then how many players had to leave just because they were crying and had to to walk a few feet away I just don't know how these players just you know turn the page right now and get back to even thinking about football. Yeah for sure you know people talk about you know when's the next game going to be I mean I don't even know about showing up for work tomorrow to be honest with you who's going to do that what that situation is like like normally Wednesday is a practice day right the media day we go in there and hear from Sean McDermott like we don't know what's going on yet and quite frankly like I don't necessarily care it's not not the bigger issue right but you're right because I keep thinking about there's got to be players on this team who probably wanted to come in today and talk to somebody there's probably Tuesday's their normal day off anyway so like we wouldn't be down there you know on a normal Tuesday and you know today would be their day off but there's got to be there's probably I would guess other players who maybe they don't want to maybe they don't want to see DeMar Hamlin's locker and think about him not being a part of them in the meeting you know I don't know but I will tell you this over the last few years under Sean McDermott and Brandon Bean the Bills have absolutely been at the forefront of providing as many resources as possible to assist in the mental health of their entire organization players coaches staff it's very very very important to them and it has been and I've seen this up close my wife actually works in the mental health field herself and you know I've really been impressed with the organization and how they've really made available as many resources as possible to everybody in the organization for this type of thing for mental health and and assisted that and I'm guessing a lot of that is going on right now. Sal Capaccio a lot of people have been talking about the five-minute remark that was made in the broadcast that the players were told in five minutes they were going to resume play clearly the way that Sean McDermott and Zach Taylor handled it was admirable because there was no way they were going to return to play nor should they last night did you hear anything on the sideline because you saw Burr warming up it looked like at one time Stefan Diggs was trying to to rally everyone together were they ever close to actually coming back and playing that game last night? I think they were but I here's what I'll tell you I didn't know about the five-minute thing until I heard today that Joe Buck apparently had said that on the broadcast a few times multiple times yeah warm up and but I don't recall and I Zach am I saying he did or he didn't but I never remember hearing Sean Smith the referee say this like over the loudspeaker I don't remember anybody actually saying in the stadium that there's going to be a five-minute warm-up period so and I didn't hear anybody in the sideline say it I'm not saying anybody got a directive or they didn't I'm saying they told players they didn't I'm telling you I didn't hear anything from what I recall that said not only was Stefan Diggs with tears streaming down his face by the way bringing players in and trying to re-energize them get them up a little bit to play the Bills defense was on the field 11 players were preparing for a snap that's what they were doing now my take is I think they're just conditioned to do this right this is what they do yeah when you have these situations what do you do you press on you play and it sounds callous because it basically is in a situation like that but ever since they've been little kids and playing football you see a teammate get injured you hope for him you bring it out you help them you get them off the field let's go on to the next play that's just the way it is I mean week two Dean Jackson Monday Night Football against Tennessee he lay on the field with that that neck injury remember that yeah he got carted off they played Zach I've been I'm close to 50 years old I've played and coached and been in the media in this game for decades I've never been around a game that they didn't resume after an injury I don't think you have I don't remember any people I don't think they have I don't think any of these players have ever been in that situation where a game didn't resume because of injury you know why because that's what you do you go up and you play the next play so my thought is they did that because that's what they're conditioned to do their whole life to play the next play as tough as that would have been and I don't know how they could have done it and we were talking to the broadcast how are they going to do this there's no way they should be out here and then Diggs he actually goes on the field Saran Neil is coming off he goes up to Saran Neil Saran Neil was playing for Taron Johnson by the way who got hurt on the first series and Stephon Diggs was up to Saran Neil by the way Saran Neil was still balling like it tears gushing out of his face and he goes up to me grabs him uh on the in the face right and left cheek basically and he's telling them like okay come on here we go get you we got to go out there and play and I'm like this is surreal like how these guys gonna go out there and do this well thankfully Zach Taylor and Sean McDermott and maybe the officials I don't know what role they played because I don't want to say they didn't want to do it or they did want to do it I don't know but they got together as you saw and then eventually said we're not playing and go to the locker room last one for you Sal and I can't thank you enough for doing this Sal Capaccio the Bills sideline reporter here with us Damar Hamlin what do you want people to know about the person Damar Hamlin uh just such a great kid you know I mean he um he came in this league and I remember the day he was drafted Todd McShay was breaking him down ESPN he said he is going to make the team there's a six-round pick coming in playing a spot that you know it's so tough to break the the team here because they employer and hide and he said he's he said I guarantee you he makes this team because he's got everything Brandon being Sean McDermott love he's going to be a terror on special teams he's a really physical player well guess what it all turned out to be true and that's what he did that's how he made the team and he's he's all ball he's all about being in in in the moment and helping his teammates and working his tail off but you know what off the field you've seen I think I'm so glad right now today that we've seen a lot of these videos him coming out unfortunately the circumstance but people really learning about Damar and you know that he has such a kind heart and he has his foundation his charitable foundation chasing millions and you've seen that they um they've raised over four million dollars the donations to his page which is a toy drive basically um and you know quick story he took over for Micah Hyde and early in the year he goes on the field and they win a game and he has a big part in it I don't remember it was the Steelers game maybe maybe game right after that and I do a post-game interview with someone coming off the field in those situations so I go up and I I say I'm gonna interview Damar Hamlin like he's a guy I never really got in this situation I've talked to everybody else over the last whatever years after they won a game and I just run up to him I'm like Damar Damar you know live on air live radio interview and he looks at me like no no I'm okay I don't want to do that and I said to him I said Damar I said in nine years I've never had anybody say no they don't want to talk after they won and he kind of looked at me and he's like oh okay he he didn't understand like the value he had on the field in the game and that you know because he's so unassuming he's not looking for the attention that I think that that kind of he chuckled about it and he did a great interview we joked about it after the game because he didn't understand that I wanted to talk to him about his role in the game because he was so good because all he's trying to do is do his job. Sal I can't thank you enough we're thinking about you we're thinking about all with the Bills and Bengals organizations and obviously most of and and a ton of our thoughts are with Damar Hamlin as well thank you and you be well. All right you too man thanks. There is Sal Cappaccio the Bills sideline reporter.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-01-08 07:31:47 / 2023-01-08 07:39:15 / 7