By: Jack Nevins
Monday, January second, 2023, 8:55 pm with 5:58 left to play in the first quarter, where football turned into more than just a game with a pigskin and some field goals.
The top of the AFC includes the likes of the Kansas City Chiefs, Buffalo Bills, and Cincinnati Bengals. The Bills and Benglas faced off in a highly anticipated matchup at Paycor Stadium, in Cincinnati, on Monday January second. This game has stars on stars, including Steffon Diggs, Josh Allen, Joe Burrow, Ja’Marr Chase, and Joe Mixon.
Injuries have derailed so many NFL careers, as well thousands of athletes around the world. We have witnessed several gruesome injuries this season, the most notable are head injuries. Horrifying concussions from Tua Tagovailoa, Juju Smith-Schuster, and Nyheim Hines. The injury in the first quarter of the Monday night football game between the Bills and Bengals was like no other. Joe Burrow steps back in the pocket and fires one over the middle, thirteen yards finding Tee Higgins who gets stopped by a 24 year old safety out of the University of Pittsburgh, Damar Hamlin. Hamlin was drafted in the sixth round of the 2021 NFL draft and came into the league as a backup, who then earned the starting job this season with an injury to Micha Hyde. Hyde was diagnosed with a neck injury week 3 of the NFL season, giving Hamlin a primetime role. The second-year safety stayed down after tackling Higgins and those around him were unsure of his injury, maybe a head injury, or just winded.
These assumptions were wrong. Hamlin stayed on the field for over 10 minutes while being assisted by medical staff. Denny Kellington, a Bills trainer, was the one credited with giving Damar CPR and attempting to save his life. Hamlin was then rushed to the hospital, where he was in “critical condition”, Hamlin went under cardiac arrest following the hit. It took Hamlin three nights to become conscious again, and the first thing he said was “Did we win”, the doctors responded with “Yes, you won the game of life”. The injury to Hamlin shocked the whole world and brought communities together.
After regenerating his senses, Hamlin began to call those missing him in their life, and all he could do was smile. Damar joined in on a zoom call with his teammates and coaching staff, and was unable to speak properly, but was able to say “I love you boys”. Although Hamlin had undergone a tremendous feat, he still was able to show his love to not only the game but to his “family”. Those around the league, and sports community, whether close or not with Hamlin, grieved and paid their respects to the young star.
Fast forward to present day, Hamlin is out of the hospital and mobile once again. As of Sunday, January 15th, Damar visited the Bills facility and surprised his teammates. This injury should set a precedent to the world, showing that anything is possible, and this was the toughest task of all. The NFL created shirts with a 3 on it, representing Hamlin’s number. Every player wore the shirt showing how this injury has affected them and that it is more than just.