NFL Community Comes Together For Damar Hamlin

NFL Community Comes Together For Damar Hamlin

On the evening of January 2, the National Football League (NFL) community and the sports world suffered one of their scariest moments in recent history. What seemed to be an exciting matchup between two of the best teams in football, the Buffalo Bills and the Cincinnati Bengals,  turned out to be nothing anyone expected. Just minutes into the first quarter of the game, safety Damar Hamlin collapsed on the field after making a tackle on Bengals wide receiver Tee Higgins.

Players in NFL games frequently go down on the field with varying degrees of injuries, but this time was different. Players immediately started yelling for medical staff seconds after Hamlin went down, something uncharacteristic for football’s usual bumps and bruises. Millions of people watched in silence as a circle of medics, players and coaches surrounded Hamlin. Players on both teams were seen praying, crying and standing in disbelief as everybody waited for medics to gauge the severity of his condition. People watching at home received news that Damar had received CPR on the field and was carried into an ambulance.

This incident was unique for the NFL administration, and the NFL community as a whole was unsure how to proceed, but one thing was for certain: no one wanted to play football. The game that had seemed huge just minutes before suddenly seemed meaningless. Both coaches pulled their players off the field and into the locker rooms as the game paused for roughly half an hour before it was declared postponed. Any word on Hamlin was scarce as everyone waited anxiously overnight, hoping the young star would pull through his “critical condition” status. 

During the wait, fans, players and teams nationwide showed their respect and came together in ways never seen before in the NFL community. In 2020, Damar Hamlin started a charity to purchase toys for children in his hometown in McKees Rocks, Pennsylvania who were affected by the pandemic. The charity was set with a goal of $2,500, and it is safe to say that goal was broken. As of mid-January, just under nine million dollars have been raised for Hamlin’s cause, with over half of that coming within hours after Damar’s injury. 

Fans found other ways to show their support if they were not donating. The phrase “Love For Damar” was heard all across the country, and NFL teams lit up their empty stadiums with the Buffalo colors of blue and red. 

The Buffalo Bills “Mafia” as they call themselves are known to show love to all NFL players in need. Roughly $75,000 was raised for Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson’s favorite charity in 2019 when he suffered a concussion during a playoff game. In 2021, over $1.1 million was raised for their beloved quarterback Josh Allen after he lost his grandmother. This money ended up funding the construction of a new hospital wing at Oishei Children’s Hospital in Buffalo, New York. 

The postponed game between the Bills and Bengals was fully canceled on January 5. This brought lots of difficulties with the NFL playoff structure. The primary concern was, of course, Hamlin’s health. The NFL administration was willing to make some changes to the playoff plan if it meant Damar would be respected and supported throughout his recovery. 

Around January 5, news was released that Hamlin only needed 50% of oxygen input rather than the 100% he had been receiving since his collapse. Although there was still a way to go, this was definitely a step in the right direction.

On January 11, Damar Hamlin was discharged from the hospital. Many saw this as a minor miracle, as Hamlin’s body had been much more responsive to medical assistance than others would have. He is, of course, a professional athlete. The great condition of his lungs and cardiovascular system prior to the injury was a factor in his speedy recovery. 

The following week, the Bills had a game scheduled against the New England Patriots. Damar took to social media to send out a message to all.

“I’m thankful for every single person that prayed for me and reached out. If you know me you know this [is only going to] make me stronger,” Hamlin said.

This note revived a stressed NFL community; Damar Hamlin was going to be ok. Doctors have said he is making great progress and should make a full recovery. 

The opening seconds of the Bills’ first game back since Hamlin’s injury were out of a fairytale. Bills kick returner Nyheim Hines took the opening kickoff 96 yards to the house as fans roared from the stands. Damar rooted for his Bills as they took on the Cincinnati Bengals, this time in the NFL Divisional Round Playoffs. 

Hamlin’s injury had obvious short-term effects on the NFL and its community, but what does this mean for the future? Will changes be made to prevent future injuries? Although pads and helmets are always improving, changing the equipment has proven to not be enough. Harsher penalties and fines have begun to impact players more if they make a dirty play, and a bad hit can result in ejection. Will these punishments be enough to stop the constant injuries? Only time will tell. 

As for Damar, he has been seen at the Bills facility and is back with his family in Pennsylvania. Although he is still a ways away from his full recovery, everything is looking up.

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About the Contributor
Aidan Lohmeyer
Aidan Lohmeyer, Social Media Editor
Aidan Lohmeyer is entering his 3rd year on staff and is this year’s Social Media Editor. When he is not spending time with friends or family, he loves playing as many sports as he can. This will be his fourth year playing baseball for our school.

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