By Tori Wittenbrock
ASHWAUBENON – The Packers’ preseason home opener did not go over as smoothly as anticipated, from start to finish.
After an early pregame squabble during warmups, the Patriots and Packers faced high tension during the remainder of the game.
However, after three relatively aggressive quarters — where the teams saw some late hits and unsportsmanlike conduct — with 10 minutes and 29 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter, the true dangers of football made themselves present around the 25-yard line at Lambeau Field.
New England Patriots player Isaiah Bolden was faced with a hard hit in a collision with his own teammate and remained down on the field, where athletic training staff provided immediate medical assistance before he was carted off the field.
Ultimately, the official came out onto the field and announced to the crowd that due to player injury, both Packer Head Coach Matt LaFleur and Patriots Head Coach Bill Belicheck had agreed to suspend the game and the final score would stand — the Patriots leading 21-27 — with the game officially over.
“I’ve never been a part of a situation like that,” said Packers quarterback Jordan Love. “It’s obviously a really scary situation, and you don’t know if he is going to be okay or not.”
After the conclusion of the game, Love addressed his knowledge and feelings about the situation.
“Thoughts and prayers are with him. You never want to see that happen. Going back to last year with the Damar Hamlin situation, it’s just something really scary that you never want to see happen.”
At the time that Bolden was carted off the field, the Patriots released a statement saying that he was in stable condition and on his way to the hospital.
In addition to comments from Love as a fellow player, both coaches addressed the fear surrounding the situation as well.
LaFleur said that the situation at the end of the game was unfortuate and scary, sharing that his thoughts and prayers were with Isaiah and his family.
“It’s a scary situation that you never want to see in our game, and I thought that it was aggressive for both teams,” said LaFleur.
“Coach Belicheck and I talked on the field and decided it was best to take the action that we took. There is a lot of good work that we have had over the past couple of days, but it’s hard to think about that right now.”
LaFleur added that he and the team are just hoping that Bolden would be okay.
Although football is one of the most dangerous contact sports, LaFleur said that it is always scary when someone gets hurt.
“Any time you see someone getting carted off like that, it’s a tough situation to witness, and you can just see the care for [Bolden] from his teammates and the coaching staff,” he said.
However, LaFleur said that the bottom line is that he hopes everyone walks away safe and respectfully.
“It was a chippy week all in all, and it kind of got escalated in the pre-game a little bit, but we just wanted to make sure that there weren’t going to be any problems post-game and that we would be able to show the respect that we had for each other so that we can get out of here and go home.”
Belicheck said that Bolden’s situation at the end of the game is the only thing that matters.
“I think the situation kind of takes over the overall bigger picture of the game,” said Belicheck.
Belicheck also said that the decision to end the game came from the league, and he supports it in every way possible.
“I appreciate the way the league handled it. I think it was the right thing to do,” said Belicheck.
“We are also saying a prayer for some of our players who have family and close relatives in Hawaii and are going through some stuff out there,” he concluded.
“That’s really the bigger picture of it here. Regroup and talk about the game later. Competitive game, competitive week, and a good week here against Green Bay, but unfortunate what happened at the end. Hopefully Isaiah will be alright.”
The Saturday night game was only the second ever NFL game to be called due to injury, following the injury of the Buffalo Bills defensive back Damar Hamlin in January of 2023 when he collapsed and was placed in critical condition after his heart stopped following a tackle.