Dan Hoard dreamed of being a broadcaster for as long as he can remember. The 58-year-old is the longtime radio voice of the Cincinnati Bengals as well as the University of Cincinnati Bearcats football and basketball teams. Like many of us, he was looking forward to the Monday Night Football game between the Bengals and the Buffalo Bills. Obviously, everything changed after Damar Hamlin’s injury.
Awful Announcing caught up with Hoard to speak about that terrible evening.
AA: What was Monday night like?
Dan Hoard: “It was terrifying for anybody who was there. I’ve been behind the mic for some gruesome injuries but I’ve never seen anything like that. I certainly never anticipated seeing a player receive CPR on the field. So like anybody in attendance that night or watching on television, it was a frightening, difficult-to-watch situation that all of us hope never to see again.”
During that time, you still have a job to do. How do you explain to your audience what’s happening?
“You try to describe what you’re seeing as accurately and factually as possible. You don’t do any guessing. You don’t speculate on what might be wrong with the player involved. You just train your eyes on the field and try to be as descriptive as you can be. That’s the approach we took.
“My color commentator Dave Lapham played professionally for 12 years and he’s been a Bengals broadcaster for more than 30. So, he provided some great perspective on what it’s like as a player when one of your brothers goes down or when a player on the other team goes down.”
How long were you on the air?
“We were on the air for the entire time until the NFL announced that it had been indefinitely postponed. We were on during the indefinite suspension. We took some commercial breaks but we were broadcasting…
“One of the things that made it difficult was that there was just not a lot of information available about Damar Hamlin for understandable reasons. They were working to save his life. They didn’t have the ability to update us on his status and exactly what was wrong. That made it challenging for anyone covering the game, whether it was broadcasting or writing about it—waiting through that uncertainty and hoping for the best for the player.”
When did you leave the stadium?
“The NFL announcement I believe was at 10:05 that the game had been postponed. I probably left the stadium an hour and a half later. It was slow moving because a lot of people stayed at the stadium until the final word came from the NFL. So it took a while to get home. Naturally, I was processing what happened, thinking about Damar Hamlin and thinking about both teams. For many people who follow the game and love the game, it was a sleepless night.”
How are the Bengals players doing?
“It’s what you would expect. They are still grappling with their emotions, trying to support each other. I think they appreciate the outpouring of support they have received from fans in Cincinnati and fans worldwide. But it’s not like they are past dealing with the emotions of Monday night.”
How do you prepare to do your job this week?
“That process has started. Some of that is probably helpful, quite honestly. Just the normal homework that you do. It takes your mind off some of the feelings that you’re having. I’ve started some of that homework. I’m broadcasting a (college) basketball game: Cincinnati vs. Wichita State. So I have to prepare and travel for that game. But like all of us, it all begins with hoping to receive positive news about Damar Hamlin. There has been some, and we’re certainly hoping for more.”
As a Western New York native, going into Monday night, did this game seem special to you?
“I grew up in Lakewood, New York which is south of New York, and the Bills were my team as a kid. Most of my family members still root for the Buffalo Bills, so I have a soft spot in my heart for the Bills. Obviously, having called Bengals games for the last 12 years, that is my team now…
“The atmosphere was unlike anything I had ever seen. I said at the beginning of the broadcast that it wasn’t a playoff atmosphere. It was more like a Super Bowl atmosphere or an Olympics opening ceremonies atmosphere. It was electric. The city was abuzz all week. It’s unfortunate the way things played out.”