The world turns a corner on a scary Monday night


Leading up to the Monday Night Football battle between the Buffalo Bills and the Cincinnati Bengals, the synopsis on sports networks was about how critical the game would be. 

Two transformed units trying to collect the number one playoff spot in the AFC. Two fantastic quarterbacks in Josh Allen and Joe Burrow looking to earn a statement win. Both squads focused on showing the NFL who the real AFC leader would be. 

The BUF-CIN affair started off great, as Burrow found wide receiver Tyler Boyd for a score, and the Bills recorded a field goal to cut Cincy’s margin to 7-3. 

The Bengals had possession of the football with around six minutes to go in the first, and that’s when the scary stuff happened. 

Cincinnati wide receiver Tee Higgins caught a Burrow pass and lunged into Bills safety Damar Hamlin in order to acquire some extra yardage. 

It wasn’t at all dirty. A routine play, a routine tackle. 

Hamlin got up, shaking off the dust of the play, so to speak, and suddenly moments later, he fell to the ground. 

The Bills safety experienced a cardiac arrest. 

Damar stayed down on the ground as medics dashed out to deliver CPR.

Players wept and hugged, coaches Zac Taylor and Sean McDermott shared an embrace outside one of the locker rooms, and the ESPN newscast went in and out of commercial break to heed Damar’s privacy and the plight at hand. 

This note in the NFL is something we have not seen since October 24, 1971, when Chuck Hughes collapsed during the fourth quarter of Bears-Lions and eventually passed away in a Detroit hospital. 

It was revealed later on an autopsy that Hughes suffered from arteriosclerosis heart disease, per the New York Times. Preceding the game Chuck played in, he said he had pain in his stomach and chest. No heart disease was found after multiple tests were run. 

Fast forwarding to the present day, Damar Hamlin not only wasn’t hit hard by Tee Higgins, but Hamlin also was COMPLETELY healthy, per his uncle Dorrian Glenn. 

That could explain what Dr. Hari Tandri of Vanderbilt University Medical Center stated about Damar possibly experiencing the rare commotio cordis: “There is nothing wrong with the heart”. 

Commotio cordis occurs when the heart is hit at the “less than five-millisecond mark” between heartbeats when the rhythm of blood flow is “vulnerable.” The heart can cause itself to go into catastrophic states when this happens.

“It’s not about how hard of a hit it was. It’s about the timing of when the blow happens,” said Dr. Camilla Sasson, a spokesperson for the American Heart Association.

For all these reasons and more, Damar Hamlin’s situation felt way different than what occurred in 1971. 

To include a couple of specific reasons, one is that Hamlin’s life was retained twice in 30 minutes. 

On the field, according to Hamlin’s uncle, physicians resuscitated Damar. At the University of Cincinnati Medical Center, healthcare professionals needed to do so once again. 

“Just to know my nephew died on the field, and they brought him back to life. I mean, that’s heartbreaking,” Glenn said in an interview with CNN. 

Glenn considers himself fortunate his nephew is still fighting in this daunting time. 

“I’m just glad he’s still alive and able to fight,” he said. “I want to express my gratitude to the medical staff on hand. If not for them, my nephew probably wouldn’t be here, and I mean that from the bottom of my heart. We thank them.” 

Because Hamlin’s tackle was routine, the injury it caused felt impossible, which is a second reason Hamlin’s case was not normal. This is also, however, why the world’s outpouring of support for him has been so immense.

Professional athletes from around the globe poured in their thoughts, prayers, and uplifting messages across social media. NFL athletes and other personalities donated sizable quantities of money to Hamlin’s “Chasing M’s Foundation” toy drive, as the drive enlarged from a pregame $2,500 target to over $1,000,000 overnight. As I write this, the toy drive has topped $6,000,000 in donations. 

All of this support from every corner of the world, including all 32 NFL squads altering their profile pictures to a Bills blue-themed “Pray for Damar,” showed that this tragedy has led society in a positive direction.

You can also look at NFL commentator Dan Orlovsky’s prayer during NFL Live the other day as another instance. Orlovsky did not send a Twitter prayer, although it was very easy to do so, nor did he simply say that his thoughts and prayers were with Hamlin and his family. Dan actually prayed on-air.

Additionally, fans attending the Bills-Bengals game came together to do a group prayer following Damar Hamlin’s scary injury. 

It was an awesome moment to see. 

Two years ago, COVID hit and everything went into panic mode. Today, the world still has its struggles, but it is very relieving to know that there are many, many good people out there, and that Damar Hamlin’s horrific situation turned into positive messages, support, and prayers. 

Those prayers are going to work. Damar is getting better by the minute, and soon he will be off the sedation he is currently in. 

I just know it. It’s the power of prayer, everyone. It can do some crazy positive things.