‘Just a game.’ Thoughts and prayers for Bills DB Damar Hamlin

Mandatory Credit: Buffalo Bills At Cincinnati Bengals Jan 2 0477
Mandatory Credit: Buffalo Bills At Cincinnati Bengals Jan 2 0477 /

This is not a story about the LA Rams. Please bear with me. I was pretty shaken up last night over an event that almost everyone is talking about today. This article is about the struggle and challenge facing Buffalo Bills defensive back Damar Hamlin, a young safety who suffered a cardiac arrest and slumped to the football field on Monday Night Football.

Football is not just a game for Damar Hamlin right now. And it’s no longer just a game for anyone who witnessed the series of events that played out.

As soon as Buffalo Bills Damar Hamlin collapsed to the football field, I knew that something horrific was taking place. But as the cameras panned to show NFL players, both teammates, and opponents, openly crying on the football field, I had to turn off the television and did the only thing I knew in the face of events that I had no control over.

All I could do is pray

I prayed. It was the only thing I could do.

Judging by the comments on social media, thousands if not millions joined me. Never has the fragility of human life been revealed so obviously, so strikingly apparent, as was the case on the Monday Night Football game between the Cincinnati Bengals and the Buffalo Bills.

Medical staff from both teams rushed to the field. This was no longer a game of football. This was now a player locked in a battle for his life.  I was powerless, scared, and tied to an NFL player I had never met and knew so little about. But in those long moments of anticipation of some positive news, fighting back fears and tears, some positive news began to break.

Medical update

We first learned that Hamlin arrived at the hospital. Then we learned that medical professionals had stabilized his condition. This morning we have the following update from the Buffalo Bills.

Do things like that normally take place on a football field? No. But then I thought back to the countless times that I’ve witnessed a player grabbing his knew after tearing an ACL. Thoughts have played back to the New York Giants Kayvon Thibodeaux’s post-sack celebration of emulating a snow angel next to Indianapolis Colts quarterback Nick Foles, who was convulsing on the ground beside him.

Changing perspective

Players wear protective gear for good reason. This is a violent sport. We forget that as we cheer for those violent collisions. And our hearts go out to those players who have suffered an injury, oftentimes purely from the impact it causes on our fantasy football team or the NFL team we cheer for.

To many fans, this may be just a game. But to the players and the players’ families, it’s a gamble of health. I never expected to be praying for a player’s chance at recovery as a result of what I witnessed on Monday Night Football, but I cannot for the life of me stop praying.

But now that I know that Damar Hamlin is in the hands of medical experts, my prayers have expanded a bit. I pray that no player faces a life-or-death struggle on a football field again. The NFL is an entertaining sport, and I love the game as much as anyone.

But something inside me is different now. A young man is fighting for his life. Right now, that is far more important than a game of football, or the LA Rams.