For Damar Hamlin, safety for the Buffalo Bills, life may not ever be the same again after the events that unfolded during last night’s NFL game pitting the Buffalo Bills against the Cincinnati Bengals. After making a routine tackle on Bengals wide receiver Tee Higgins, Hamlin collapsed seconds later on the field and momentarily stopped breathing. Fortunately, doctors and first responders where able to perform CPR and life saving measures to get him breathing on his own once more before taking him to a local hospital (UC Medical Center). Ultimately, what came in the aftermath is a united front not only between the two teams but that of the masses either watching or made aware of the horrific moment. One positive takeaway if any can be found is that, Damar Hamlin has sparked a new conversation about sports. For Hamlin, a promising 24-year-old safety from Pittsburgh, it seemed prior to the game that his future was on the rise in just his second season as a professional. In case you forgot, he was thrust into duty after the injury to long-time Bills stalwart Micah Hyde and from all indications flourished in the role as a starter. Coming into last night’s game, he was tied for second on the team with 91 tackles and 1.5 sacks on the season.
Stats and performance aside, Hamlin had just as bright a future off the field given his passion to serve. In fact, back in 2020 while still attending Pittsburgh, he launched the Chasing M’s Foundation which was initially established to support a toy drive in his community. Since yesterday, the donation amount has risen to over $3 million thanks to contributions from fans, athletes, etc. That says a lot about the impact Hamlin has even if not a household name or someone with a massive following. As for the NFL, they showcased how little regard they have for their players backed by the fact, their response was that the players had a mere five minutes to gather themselves before the game was to resume as if the horrific episode hadn’t even occurred. How ridiculous is that? I get the age-old adage, “the show must go on”. Should it happen when something as drastic and life altering as this occurs? To be real, Roger Goodell and his goons should be held accountable for their lack of compassion and empathy. Football is a violent game and the NFL as we know it, stands for Not For Long for a reason. Those fortunate and gifted enough to play it, have a certain level of fearlessness and grit that allows them to showcase their God given talent every year. However, no one expects what Damar Hamlin went through, to ever take place during a game. While not a frequent moment on the football field, it has occurred in other sports such as for example in hockey with former St. Louis Blues player Jay Bouwmeester (https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2020/feb/12/jay-bouwmeester– collapse-st-louis-blues-anaheim-ducks-nhl) during a 2020 game, ultimately leading to his retirement some months later, as well as college basketball player Hank Gathers (https://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/hank-gathers-death– college-basketball) of Loyola Marymount who in 1990 collapsed during a game and later passed away . While what happened to those mentioned are just a few examples of incidents similar to that of Damar Hamlin, it goes to show that there aremore important things than your profession. At the end of the day, players participating insports should be respected as human beings and regardless of who stands across from them, one thing should always be kept in mind and that is that it’s a brotherhood/sisterhood. Handle your business in between the lines but leave it there and live to fight another day.
By Rodney Davis, NTZ Sports Director