On Monday, January 2, 2023, we experienced one of the most shocking and tragic instances we could’ve ever witnessed in a televised sporting event. During the Monday Night Football Game between the Buffalo Bills and Cincinnati Bengals, Bills Safety Damar Hamlin suffered a cardiac arrest on the field after a collision with Bengals Receiver Tee Higgins. What seemed to be a normal football play caused Hamiln to suffer blunt force trauma to the chest and collapse on sight. The blunt force trauma to his chest caused him to suffer cardiac arrest, a complete heart stoppage, and prevented oxygen from reaching the brain. First responders immediately took to the field to administer CPR and intubate him with oxygen. Did we see the good in sports and humanity?
Tragedy on MNF
Seeing a player go down in a football game seems to be all but normal these days. The announcer states that there’s a player down on the field, and the player will eventually rise, be carted off, or taken out via stretcher, but NEVER have we seen this before. Injured players almost always confirm they’re ok by a thumbs up, a wave, or handshakes with fellow players on the field, but this was different.
Seeing the first responders rush to the field and administer CPR made us all aware of the severity of the situation. Fellow Bills and Bengal players immediately knelt down and began praying. Tears were shed, and a deafening silence fell over the crowd. Suddenly, this wasn’t about football or the AFC playoff picture. This was about Damar Hamlin and the battle for his life. That is when humanity showed its true face.
Praying for Damar
I read that people were paying for Damar Hamlin all over social media and in group texts. I will admit I’ve prayed for him and his family more than a few times since this happened. People suddenly were no longer worried about the sporting event but actually begged and pleaded for the game to be canceled. The innate instincts to pray and to think warm and comforting thoughts took over people from all races, creeds, colors, and ways of life. As of today, people have donated over $7Million to Hamlin’s “Chasing M’s” foundation to support the player’s initiative in serving underprivileged communities.
Over the last few days, teams all over the league have offered prayers and comfort to Damar Hamlin and his family. They’ve shown their support by changing their avatars and profile pictures to #3 in Bill’s uniform. On ESPN’s NFL Live show, Dan Orlovsky disregarded any protocol and began praying for Damar Hamlin while on air. Former players on national and local platforms have expressed their concern and have offered support to his family while also speaking on the issue of player safety and post-career benefits. Former Buffalo Bills and current Minnesota Vikings defensive lineman Harrison Phillips has even gone as far as catering meals for the family and all hospital staff taking care of Hamlin (Fox News).
Good in Sports and Humanity
Although a tragic event, this has brought out the best in humanity. It puts things in perspective for most of us and has allowed us to understand that football is really just a game and should not take precedence over a person’s life and well-being. Of course, there are a few crazies out there that worried about their fantasy football implications and how this would impact the AFC playoff picture, including one particular hot-take enthusiast who shall remain nameless *cough, cough*.
However, I would rather not shed any light on negativity but continue in the spirit of true humanity. As Damar Hamlin continues to recover over the next few days and hopefully makes a full recovery, I’d ask that we “keep that same energy” for Damar, his family, and all humankind. Let us all remember that those are actual people on the field of play and that their livelihood is affected by every decision, every play, and every move on the field. Additionally, I hope the NFL and team owners continue improving post-care benefits for players. Love, pray, and continue in positivity while expressing our individual fandom for our teams and sports. We have witnessed good in sports and humanity.