As a Steelers fan, it’s not in my nature to watch a Buffalo Bills – Cincinnati Bengals Monday Night Football game.
But this morning, I heard the horrifying news.
Damar Hamlin, a safety for the Buffalo Bills who was getting plenty of starts and playing time in relief of the injured Micah Hyde, tackled Cincinnati’s Tee Higgins in the first quarter of last night’s contest. A few moments later, Hamlin collapsed. He suffered a cardiac arrest. He’s now in a hospital in critical condition, fighting for his life.
This is horrifying and frightening. No matter what your football fandom is, you NEVER want to see a player injured to the point of death. And in a situation like this – where a player’s life hangs in the balance – the game itself is insignificant. Players knelt in prayer. Coaches met at midfield.
After ten minutes of CPR and IV and everything else they could possibly do, Hamlin was taken by ambulance to a local hospital.
No matter your sports fandom, at this moment you’re pulling for Damar Hamlin to come back from this. Playing football? That’s insignificant right now. He needs his life back.
We can all send our prayers and well-wishes, but here’s a better way to support Damar Hamlin in this moment. He had recently set up a fundraiser for a toy drive on GoFundMe, with a goal of $2,500 for underprivileged kids in his hometown of McKees Rocks, Pennsylvania. As of the writing of this blog, the GoFundMe has reached over $3.5 million. Here’s the link so you can help push the total to twice that much.
As for the NFL … at one point they offered both teams a 5-minute warm-up period before resuming play. Then they announced – an hour later – that the game would be postponed.
Ugh. As I said before … a player’s life is hanging in the balance. The contest doesn’t mean shit now. If you’re worried about standings or playoff permutations, don’t. Just give the Bills and the Bengals a 7-7 tie, call it a day, and continue on. Then again, this is the same NFL that played games just two days after John F. Kennedy was assassinated, so there’s ghoulish precedent here.
But what does the NFL care? Games gotta get played, sponsors must remain happy, we don’t want to crash the FanDuel and DraftKings sportsbooks, do we?
Hey NFL – take a listen here. This is from a long-time Steelers fan. I have no vested interest in the Bills or the Bengals. But I do have a vested interest in the safety of your players. Nobody should worry about losing their life on the football gridiron. Let the Bills-Bengals game end in a tie, give everybody as much time as they need to process this – not just in Buffalo and in Cincinnati, but throughout the NFL diaspora. Give any player who needs it the time to grieve. Life is more important than tackle football.
Oh, and as a gesture of solidarity … it wouldn’t hurt if whatever that GoFundMe raises for those kids in McKees Rocks, Pennsylvania …
The NFL steps in and doubles the final total raised.