Buffalo Bills’ safety Damar Hamlin suffered a cardiac arrest on the field during last night’s airing of Monday Night Football versus the Cincinnati Bengals. The 24-year-old made a tackle at the 5:58 mark of the first quarter, and then he suddenly collapsed without warning on the grounds of Paycor Stadium.
Medical personnel reportedly needed at least nine minutes, including CPR and an automated external defibrillator, to finally restore Hamlin’s heartbeat. “[Hamlin] was transferred to the UC Medical Center for further testing and treatment,” the Bills said in a tweet a bit before 2 a.m. Tuesday morning. “He is currently sedated and listed in critical condition.”
The game was delayed for almost an hour, and members of both teams came onto the field to rally in support of each other and Hamlin. Soon after, the league issued notice that it would cancel the rest of the match-up.
“Our thoughts are with Damar and the Buffalo Bills. We will provide more information as it becomes available,” the league shared in its statement. “The NFL has been in constant communication with the NFL Players Association which is in agreement with postponing the game.”
While fans and personalities from around the world showered Hamlin with love and support, sports commentator Skip Bayless issued a tweet that a number of people felt was insensitive.
“No doubt the NFL is considering postponing the rest of this game – but how?” it read. “This late in the season, a game of this magnitude is crucial to the regular-season outcome … which suddenly seems so irrelevant.”
But soon after others blasted Bayless for his statements, the Undisputed host responded that his words were misinterpreted. “Nothing is more important than that young man’s health. That was the point of my last tweet,” less than an hour later. “I’m sorry if that was misunderstood but his health is all that matters. Again, everything else is irrelevant. I prayed for him & will continue to.”
Meanwhile, ESPN sports analyst Ryan Clark was lauded for his own immediate empathy in the moment.
“Tonight, we got to see a side of football that is extremely ugly, a side of football that no one ever wants to see or never wants to admit exists,” he told Scott Van Pelt last night on SportsCenter. “And this isn’t about a football player. This is about a human. This is about a brother, this is about a son, this is about a friend. This is about someone that is loved by so many that you have to watch go through this.”
Clark, who also played 10 seasons in the NFL himself, had a similarly frightening episode due to his own sickle cell anemia in 2007. The retired Super Bowl champ, then a member of the Pittsburgh Steelers, suffered a splenic infarction at Invesco Field during a game against the Denver Bronco. As a result, he ended up losing his spleen and gallbladder, effectively shutting down his season and impacting the course of his career.
So Clark added the following in support of his fellow football player: “It’s about a young man at 24 years old that was living his dream, that a few hours ago was getting ready to play the biggest NFL game of his career, and there was probably nowhere else in the world he wanted to be. And now he fights for his life.”
Prayers up for Damar Hamlin, wishing him a speedy recovery. And check out how some people are responding to the situation on Twitter: