Monday Night Football takes a startling turn


Isaiah Vazquez

Damar Hamlin has made the number 3 famous.

Bethany Lambert, Sports Editor

On Jan. 2, the Cincinnati Bengals and Buffalo Bills were scheduled to play a high-stakes match. This game would determine big things for the NFL rankings. However, the game quickly became more emotionally impactful than planned. 

Half-way through the first quarter, Bill’s safety number 3, Damar Hamlin, collapsed on the field. The safety tackled Bengals wide-receiver Tee Higgins. Only seconds after the play, Hamlin stood up only to fall back to the ground moments later, unconscious and without a heartbeat. 

Teammates and fans panicked. CPR was administered by medical staff for ten minutes. Hamlin’s heartbeat was restored, but he wasn’t breathing on his own.

Players from both teams surrounded Hamlin to shield him from the cameras. Players and coaches openly wept and prayed. Thousands in the stands and millions viewing from home collectively held their breath and prayed for young #3.

An ambulance then took Hamlin to a local Cincinnati hospital. 

The Bengals and Bills game was canceled that evening. The NFL may have wanted the game to restart, but both teams protested. 

Fans were content with the decision to cancel the game. The concern and love for Hamlin was stronger than the desire to watch a football game.  

At the hospital, it was realized that Hamlin had gone into cardiac arrest. While it may seem impossible that tackling Higgins caused this, there is some research that explains the incident. 

Doctor Aaron Baggish describes cardiac arrest caused by a hit to the chest as a “perfect storm.” The chest must be struck in a specific spot at a specific point in the heart beat while the heart is relaxing after releasing blood, and with the right amount of force. 

The days following his collapse, millions around the world prayed for a speedy recovery.  

Hamlin had a charity program raising money for at-risk children. After a few days, there had been over 8 million dollars donated to his charity and for his medical care. Fans were often updated with the progress he made. 

Hamlin was unconscious and on a ventilator for a few days. When he awoke, still unable to speak due to the ventilator, he wrote on a board asking “Who won the game?” His doctors replied, “You won the game, the game of life.” 

On Sunday, Jan. 8, the Bills faced the New England Patriots for their first game since Hamlin’s collapse. Hamlin was watching from the hospital where he cheered his teammates on a little different from normal. The Bills won 35 to 25. 

Hamlin was transferred to a hospital in Buffalo on Monday, Jan. 9, where he will further recover. Before he left Cincinnati, he was declared stable, breathing on his own, eating, and even walking! 

Hamlin’s life was suddenly changed but his love for his team and the game of football hasn’t. On a zoom call with his team, he said, “Love ya boys,” and gave them a comforting thumbs up. 

The NFL showed their support to Hamlin by putting number three patches on jerseys and fans were also supportive with signs, prayers, and social media posts. The road to recovery will be long for Hamlin but he has a large family behind him and is ready to face it. 

The startling collapse brought together fans, players, coaches, and staff across the league. It was eye-opening for many to see that athletes aren’t invincible, and the incident made it clear that a bond forms on the football teams, and not just amongst teammates, but with opponents as well.