Football is a violent game. The players, fans, and league understand that. It is also a money driven game, and while the league gives lip service to player safety, all too often they look the other direction on the issue. Monday night on the banks of the Ohio river in Cincinnati’s Paycor Stadium, the league’s worst nightmare and every players worst scenario happened. Late in the first quarter with the Bengals driving, Bills safety Damar Hamlin attempted to tackle the Bengals wide receiver Tee Higgins. Higgins initiated contact and drove into Hamlin during the course of the play. The contact appeared routine, but when Hamlin popped up from the tackle he took a couple of steps, wobbled, and fell backwards onto the field. Upon seeing the immediate seriousness of the situation, medical crews rushed the field and found Hamlin in full cardiac arrest. An ambulance was brought onto the field while crews performed cpr for approximately 8 minutes. Hamlin was then loaded onto the ambulance and taken to the University of Cincinnati Medical Center. Rumors swirled amidst the chaos at Paycor as 65,000 fans sat stunned by what had happened.
The power of all prayers are with #DamarHamlin at this moment. God is with him.
Pray without ceasing. pic.twitter.com/kygMfGOZvs
— Nancy (@I_Am_9605) January 3, 2023
At one point the ESPN announcers were told that the players were going to be given five minutes to warm up and the game would be restarted. Many on social media have been ripping the NFL based on this false five-minute warning. According to the league no such directive was ever given. Troy Vincent, NFL executive vice president of football operations had this to say.
“Obviously we saw the coaches and players and, frankly, those that were tuned into the game, all traumatized,” Vincent said. “Myself personally, just thinking through what is actually happening, what is taking place in real time, and as emergency care was taking place on the field, I’m in communication with Shawn, who’s the referee tonight, and making sure he was in constant communication with both coach Taylor and coach [Sean] McDermott.
“And what was most important tonight wasn’t proceeding with the game. Frankly, the competitive aspect never crossed my mind, never crossed our minds internally.”
“I’m not sure where that came from,” Vincent said. “Frankly, there was no time period for the players to get warmed up. The only thing we asked was for Shawn to communicate with both head coaches to make sure they had the proper time inside the locker room to discuss what they felt like was best.
“I’m not sure where that came from of five minutes warmup. That never crossed my mind, personally. And I’m not saying I to be selfish but I was the one communicating with the commissioner.
“We never, frankly, it never crossed our mind to talk about warming up to resume play. That’s ridiculous. That’s insensitive and that’s not a place we should ever be in.”
The hope is Vincent is being honest. Grown men wept openly and embraced on the field, as a fan the last thing on my mind was restarting the game. Perhaps not at all. The league could consider a tie, but likely won’t be able to reschedule the game due to time constraints and the playoffs beginning in a matter of less than two weeks. Both teams have already clinched playoff berths, so the only thing at stake is seeding. Bengal coach Zac Taylor and Bill coach Sean McDermott huddled and took their respective squads to the locker room as the chaos swirled as the ESPN on air and studio people seemed shaken and on the verge of tears.
Commotio Cordis is sudden ventricular fibrillation triggered by a blunt, nonpenetrating blow to the chest without damage to the ribs or sternum! pic.twitter.com/0ii8MZq8CT
— MedicTests.com (@medictests) August 16, 2022
As for Hamlin, he still remains in critical condition at UC Medical Center. Considering the nature of the injury that in itself is a small miracle. The injury appeared to be a phenomenon called commotio cordis, in which sudden death can occur due to ventricular fibrillation from a blunt force blow to the precordial area. It doesn’t mean he had underlying conditions or any of the other conspiracy theories being floated around, as it was just a freak accident. This happens occasionally in youth sports when younger people with less dense muscle tissue take a direct blow to the heart. Sadly, it ends in death way more often than not, but thanks to the Cincinnati Bengals and the first responders on the scene at least Hamlin has a punchers chance to recover. It remains to be seen however, and the entire sports world is keeping Damar Hamlin in its prayers.
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