This was something many football fans have never witnessed before.
On Monday Night Football, in a game between the Buffalo Bills and the Cincinnati Bengals, Buffalo safety Damar Hamlin collapsed on the field in the first quarter, after tackling Cincinnati wide receiver Tee Higgins. An ambulance was summoned onto the field, and CPR was administered to Hamlin for several minutes. He was then transported to nearby University of Cincinnati Medical Center where, at the time of this writing, he remains in critical condition. Hamlin, as learned later, suffered a cardiac arrest as a result of the tackle.
The crowd at Paycor Stadium sat in stunned silence as the horrific scene played out. Hamlin’s Bills teammates were embracing and crying, some seen praying. The Bengals team came over and joined them, commiserating with their football brothers. As Hamlin was taken off the field in the ambulance, the entire Bills team knelt together on the field in prayer.
Hamlin’s mother, who was at the game to watch her son play, went with him in the ambulance, and remains by his side at the hospital. His family is optimistic about his recovery.
As for the game itself, one with serious playoff implications for both teams was suddenly rendered moot. The National Football League took the unprecedented step of postponing the remainder of it, to a time to be determined later.
It was the right decision. Nobody wanted to continue this game. All anyone cared about, and rightly so, was Damar Hamlin’s life.
We all understand that American football is a violent game. Men collide with each other, over and over again, game after game. Injuries happen, from sprains and strains to torn muscles, to broken bones and concussions.
Everyone involved knows the risks, and accepts them as part of the game, because of their love for it. To play professional football is a dream come true for them. Getting hurt just goes with the territory.
But this was literally a matter of life and death.
Usually, I don’t watch Monday Night Football, but I expected to enjoy this high-stakes contest between two excellent teams. It was gonna be unforgettable.
And it certainly was, for all the wrong reasons.
Keep a good thought, maybe even say a prayer, for Damar Hamlin and his family, today. He is fighting for his life.