I’ve watched countless football games in my life and I’ve seen some scary injuries. Earlier this season we watched as Tua Tagovailoa suffered what was widely viewed as his second concussion in two games. That was a terrifying situation. But what I and millions of others witnessed last night was tragic. And it’s something I won’t ever forget. I turned on the game to have as background noise while I got ready to return to work and start the year off on the right foot. But when Damar Hamlin went down, well that all changed. In real-time it was scary, but the reactions of players on both teams showed just how serious this was.
At this point, you’ve heard and seen what happened. Hamlin received CPR on the field and was transferred to UC Medical Center in Cincinnati after suffering a cardiac arrest on the field. He is currently in critical condition. I stayed awake for hours last night refreshing Twitter and glued to ESPN hoping for a positive update on the situation. Millions of others did the same. The game was postponed with no word on when it will be rescheduled. And that’s good. The last thing anyone should be thinking about right now is when that game will be played or football in general.
This scary situation was a sobering reminder that football is just a game.
And that’s something that is easily forgotten. I’ve been in moments even this season, where it felt like the most important thing in the world was my team winning. I’ve been physically nervous when I’m not even the one playing. It can be easy to lose sight of the fact that this is more than a game. These are more than teams. They are made up of human beings who, as we witnessed, literally put their lives on the line. And for our entertainment. I feel for Hamlin, his family, and every player on that field. I feel for the fans who witnessed this stark reminder of life and death.
What they experienced last night is everyone’s greatest fear. It’s something that will stay with many many people forever no matter how this ends up playing out. But we witnessed something else as well. An entire nation of football fans coming together. There was no team allegiance, nothing else mattered. Social media was full of people from all different places and backgrounds offering up prayers from Damar Hamlin. In a sport that’s full of rivalries (and there was so much riding on this game) and a world full of hatred and pointing out differences, we saw unity. And it was beautiful. There is grace and good in every situation and we are living that now. It reminds us that we all want the same things in life. And right now, that is for Damar Hamlin to make a full recovery.
Take this feeling of concern and love and pass it on.
He’s certainly not out of the woods yet. But miracles happen, and I have hope that he will make a full recovery. Until then he will constantly be in my thoughts and prayers. No moment should be taken for granted and life can change in an instant. So start this near with gratitude that you are up and living today. Hug your loved ones, and love everyone around you. Today we are all Buffalo Bills fans.