Damar Hamlin’s injury sparks conversation among the NFL community


The NFL community came together like it never had before on Monday, January 2 to send support to Buffalo Bills player Damar Hamlin after his life-threatening injury. 

During the first quarter, Hamlin, a 24-year-old second-year safety, tackled Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Tee Higgins. After making the tackle, Hamlin got up, took 2 steps, and fell back, collapsing on the field. Hamlin went into cardiac arrest on the field while an ambulance arrived and administered CPR. Players surrounded him and had emotional reactions, even shedding tears.  

The game was immediately suspended and players were sent to their locker rooms as Hamlin was rushed to the University of Cincinnati(UC) Medical Center. 

In a tweet, Arizona Cardinals Defensive Linemen JJ Watt said, “The game is not important. Damar Hamlin’s life is important. Please be ok. Please.” Many other NFL players and other athletes took to social media to send prayers and messages of support to Hamlin and his family. 

Despite all the good wishes, FOX Sports Skip Bayless sent a tweet out in which he stated that the game between the Bengals and Bills was a critical game for playoff seeding and should continue to be played. He immediately underwent intense criticism, twitter users everywhere called for him to be fired immediately. 

The NFL community continued their support with countless donations to Hamlin’s charity, accumulating 8.7 million dollars as of January 11. 

Hamlin’s injury sparked important discussions about the true dangers and risks that come with playing football. When NFL players step onto the field, they face the risk of more common serious football injuries like long-term brain injuries and spinal injuries that can lead to paralyzation.  

But this injury has almost never been seen before on a football field, let alone an NFL one. 

“Hamlin’s cardiac arrest is a very rare injury, it happens when the chest undergoes blunt force trauma at a certain point in the hearts beating, which can lead to the heart stopping immediately,” said Chagrin Falls athletic trainer Nick Outrich. 

Outrich continued that the presence of first responders and medically trained team staff to immediately provide Hamlin with CPR and oxygen practically saved his life, and in most cases of this injury, the athletes aren’t as lucky. 

“This injury usually occurs during youth soccer and youth baseball, when a hard hit or kicked ball hits a young child’s ribs that are not fully developed,” he added.  

The lack of preparation and medical support at youth sports games lead to it being too late to save the injured athlete.  In Hamlin’s case, the first moments on the field were critical to his survival. 

In the days following the injury, Hamlin remained under close care at the UC trauma center, receiving oxygen and recovering. In solidarity and support of his health, the NFL canceled the replay of the game between the Bills and Bengals. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell explained that their seeding would remain the same as it was before the game and that if either team met the Kansas City Chiefs in the playoffs, the game would be played at a neutral site to not provide unfair home field advantage. 

As of January 11, Hamlin returned from UC to Buffalo General Hospital, underwent routine tests, and returned home to recuperate. 

In a joint statement from the Buffalo Bills and UC medical center staff given on January 5, doctors said that when Hamlin finally woke up, he began to write responses to doctors. His first question was whether the Bills won the game against the Bengals. 

The doctors responded, “You won the game of life.”