Pray For Damar

The story of Damar Hamlin’s tragic injury, and its positive aftermath.

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As the NFL regular season comes to a close, and teams put in last ditch efforts to make the playoffs, every game matters. On January 2, the Buffalo Bills were set to play the Cincinnati Bengals, a wildly important game in terms of playoff seeding, with the Bills still in contention to take the number one spot in the AFC and secure a first round bye. However, as I’m sure you have learned from social media or news, Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin, who had been having a breakout year prior to the Monday night game, sustained a horrible injury. In the first quarter of the game, Hamlin made what seemed to be a routine tackle on Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Tee Higgins. However, after what can now be seen as miraculously standing up immediately following the tackle, Damar Hamlin collapsed on the field. Millions watched in disbelief, unsure of what had happened, as medical professionals administered CPR on the field for approximately ten minutes. A short time later, it became known that Hamlin suffered cardiac arrest on the field as a result of the contact to his chest. The swift action from trainers and other medical professionals saved his life, as his heartbeat was restored on the field. Hamlin still had to be transported by ambulance to the University of Cincinnati Medical Center. Bills players united in prayer on the field, and shortly after 10 PM, the game was postponed. 

Since the day of the injury, the contest between the Buffalo Bills and Cincinnati Bengals has been officially canceled. This cancellation has implications on the AFC playoff picture, as the Bills lost their chance to secure the no.1 seed. The NFL plans to make concessions to accommodate for the special circumstances, including the possibility of playing the AFC Championship game in a neutral site if the Bills make it. The National Football League and its commissioner Roger Goodell recognize that this is not the ideal situation, but recognize that Damar Hamlin’s health takes precedence over the regular season schedule. The League is working with the teams to plan for the rest of the season.

 

Damar Hamlin’s Story:

 

Damar Hamlin grew up just outside of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania playing football and basketball. He made a name for himself playing high school football, and after being pursued by several Division 1 Programs to continue his career in college, decided to stay close to home, choosing to play for the University of Pittsburgh. He suffered some injuries in college, but was named a captain his senior year, along with securing a spot on the All-ACC second team. Damar Hamlin was then selected by the Buffalo Bills in the sixth round of the 2021 NFL Draft. After being used sparingly his rookie season, Hamlin was promoted to starting safety following an injury to teammate Micah Hyde. Before his injury, Hamlin was tied for 2nd-most tackles on the Bills with 91, along with six tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks. Hamlin’s great year was cut short, but the Bills continue to dominate the AFC, and are now playing for their teammate Damar. 

 

 

Injury Timeline: 

By about 2 AM, testing in the hospital confirmed that Damar Hamlin had suffered a cardiac arrest, and remained in critical condition, notably requiring a ventilator. At around 8 PM on January 3, Hamlin’s uncle released a statement on his condition. He stated that Damar was still sedated in the ICU, but that improvement had already been made, going from 100% oxygen to 50% oxygen needed from the ventilator. Additionally, he revealed that Hamlin had to be resuscitated a second time at the hospital. Around 1:30 on January 4, the Buffalo Bills released a statement that Hamlin remained in critical condition but had seen signs of improvement overnight. The next day, at about 10:30, another statement from the Bills noted that Damar had made remarkable improvement, with physicians revealing Hamlin was “neurologically intact” and that his lungs continued to heal. Around this time Hamlin woke up and had his breathing tube removed, at which point his first question was about who won the game. On January 7, Damar posted on Instagram and Twitter, thanking his fans around the world for their continued support. 

On Sunday, January 8, the Buffalo Bills took the field once again in a matchup against the New England Patriots. On the very first play since Damar Hamlin’s tragic incident, Bills returner Nyheim Hines returned the opening kickoff for a touchdown. The Bills went on to defeat the Patriots 35-23, securing the no. 2 spot in the AFC playoff picture. The Buffalo Bills are scheduled to play the Miami Dolphins on Sunday January 15 at 1:00 PM, and are favored to win. 

 

Putting love into the world comes back 3xs as much”

— Damar Hamlin

 

On the Bright Side:

Within 24 hours of Hamlin’s injury, the NFL and all 32 teams had changed their twitter profile pictures to recognize Damar, a symbol for the league-wide support he has received:

 

Damar Hamlin created a fundraiser in 2020 aimed at buying toys for children affected by COVID-19 in his hometown. The Chasing M’s Foundation Community Toy Drive, which had an original goal of $2,500, has now surpassed $8.5 million in donations following Hamlin’s injury, a result of the worldwide support he has since received. The charity has received donations from names across the NFL, along with thousands of others from around the world. 

 

 

The aftermath of Hamlin’s tragedy saw the world come together in support. Hamlin’s first tweet after awakening read: “Putting love into the world comes back 3xs as much… thankful for everyone who has reached out and prayed. This will make me stronger on the road to recovery, keep praying for me”

 

As his team moves forward in the NFL playoffs, Damar Hamlin will watch closely as he continues his promising road to recovery.