I spent most of the evening glued to my phone constantly refreshing Twitter for updates on the Damar Hamlin situation. Obviously all my thoughts and prayers are with him, his family and his teammates. Nobody should ever die on a football field—playing the game they love.
When I heard Joe Buck say they were doing CPR on Hamlin on the field, my jaw dropped. I’m sure everyone else felt the same way. It became clear that this was a lot worse than when a guy gets concussed and knocked out and has to be stretchered off.
No detailed explanation of what exactly happened has been provided, but it seems likely that he suffered something known as Commotio Cordis, which is basically where the heart suffers severe direct trauma and shuts down. You could see if you watch the replay that he absorbs a big hit from Tee Higgins when makes the tackle—Higgins lowered the boom and put his shoulder square into Hamlin’s chest, which is likely what caused the heart to stop.
(I hope it goes without saying that in no way am I blaming Tee Higgins for this, I’m just explaining what likely happened. Tee Higgins did nothing wrong at all and I’m absolutely gutted for him as well—he must feel horrible right now; he probably is taking this harder than anyone. Higgins deserves our thoughts and prayers as well here—he did nothing wrong and he should not have to feel guilty. It was a freak accident on a routine tackle.)
So his entire circulatory system shut down. Luckily he was in a situation where there were EMTs and medical professionals immediately available to restart his heart via CPR. Dr. David Chao says outside of a hospital, an NFL football field is the best place to suffer a medical emergency due to the fact that there are so many medical experts around and ready to spring into action.
We all implicitly understand that while remote, the possibility of death on the field of play is there at all times. Football is by nature a violent and dangerous sport. It’s part of the reason we love it so much, but obviously not like this. What happened tonight is that we all got reminded of the inherent risk of football. Even though these guys are paid millions of dollars, we all need to show some respect and be cognizant of the fact that they really are putting their lives on the line for us. So think twice before you call some player a bum or garbage or whatever.
Tonight has been a sobering reminder of how dangerous sports in general are. Rally car legend Ken Block died yesterday afternoon in a snowmobile crash. Auto sports have seen drivers killed in the past: Ayrton Senna and Dale Earnhardt Sr. come to mind.
I am hoping and praying that Damar Hamlin’s name isn’t added to that list. I don’t want to speculate but based on what I’ve seen it appears optimistic.
People began speculating that it was a bad sign he was still intubated. Apparently not necessarily the case:
Eventually the hospital said they would not be providing any updates for the remainder of the evening. This got people speculating wildly—could be good news, could be bad news. But apparently it’s all standard procedure:
Kind of wish the hospital would just say this publicly but I’m sure they have a very good reason for not doing so.
This was the statement released by the Bills:
I would imagine there’s reason to be optimistic here given that he does have his vital signs and that the intubation process is a standard one and not something that indicates a very grim or pessimistic outcome.
I honestly can’t even think about the actual NFL season right now—like the fact that that was a huge game with major implications, who will make the playoffs, who will win the Super Bowl, etc. All that just feels so far down the list of priorities right now. Nothing should happen until we get confirmation that Hamlin is going to be okay.