MNF Suspended: Buffalo Bills Safety Damar Hamlin in Critical Condition


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Anthony Malta, Editor-in-Chief

On January 2, fans of the National Football League were geared up to watch one of the best heavyweight matchups of the 2022-23 season: the Buffalo Bills vs. the Cincinnati Bengals. Both teams were at the top of their divisions and the audience was supposed to receive a preview of a possible AFC playoff matchup. 


At 8:55 PM, the game of football became meaningless when Bills safety Damar Hamlin collapsed on the field after making a play. 


In the first quarter, Hamlin suffered a hard collision with Bengals receiver Tee Higgins and stood up after the tackle. Immediately after getting on his feet, the second year player dropped to the ground. 


NFL fans are certainly accustomed to watching players suffer brutal injuries– earlier in the 2022-23 season, millions of viewers watched as Miami Dolphins’ quarterback Tua Tagovailoa lay motionless, holding up contorted fingers as a neurological response to the brain trauma he suffered. However, the sense of urgency flooding Hamlin’s situation allowed the NFL community to quickly realize that this wasn’t just a serious injury– it was a matter of life or death.


“There’s been instances where players have been carted off, players have been taken off by ambulance and within five or 10 minutes the game has resumed,” former NFL player Donte Stallworth said in a CNN interview. “We’ve never seen a game postponed because of an injury.”


Hamlin was unresponsive as he received CPR and relentless treatment from medical staff. Bills and Bengals players were in tears, praying and attempting to comfort each other as each passing minute fed the uncertainty and fear on the field. It was around 30 minutes before Hamlin was taken away in an ambulance and brought to the local University of Cincinnati Medical Center. On the morning of January 3, it was revealed that Hamlin went into cardiac arrest and needed to have his heartbeat restored on the field. 


Even before the NFL officially announced the postponement of the game, it was clear football was not a priority the night of January 2. The world watched as a young man who was achieving his goals was lifeless during something that should have been the peak of entertainment. The world watched as over 100 elite athletes wept, prayed and stood in a stunned silence. The world watched as what was supposed to be one of the most exciting regular season games of the season lost its meaning.


For the first time in numerous NFL seasons, football did not matter.   


Just an hour prior to the injury, Hamlin was warming up on the turf of Paycor Stadium, thrilled to start in the most important game of his short career. His family was in the stands, itching to see their relative play a core part in his team’s victory. No one could have predicted how dreadful the night would be. 


Oftentimes as viewers, we glorify the gladiator sport of football; who doesn’t get a massive rush of adrenaline from the electrifying game? It is so easy to overlook how players are risking their health, and as revealed on this Monday night matchup, their lives. Fans are engulfed in who makes the playoffs and who doesn’t, how their team performs and the overall entertainment of the game.


It is hard to imagine such athletic specimens as real human beings with real lives and real emotions because of how supernatural their talents appear on television. When a player suffers a career-altering and season-ending injury, it is upsetting for a few moments before being overshadowed by a big play, and the only important effect of the injury seems to be how it will affect the team moving forward. 


Hamlin’s dire situation is a wake-up call for anyone involved in professional sports, whether it be players, staff, viewers or executives: athletes are human beings. 


At 24 years old, Damar Hamlin should not fear for his life fulfilling his childhood dream.