On January 2, the Buffalo Bills and Cincinnati Bengals were scheduled to play Monday Night Football. The game was highly anticipated, with many calling the matchup the game of the year. However, ten minutes into the first half, Buffalo Bills safety, Damar Hamlin, went unconscious on the field. To viewers at home, his tackle was routine, leaving many confused about what happened. After a commercial break, it was announced he received CPR after worried teammates called out for medical personnel. Bills players were left in tears, falling to their hands and knees, praying for their beloved teammate. To respect his privacy, Bill’s players created a wall preventing cameras from seeing everything happening. After nine minutes of CPR, Hamlin was rushed to the hospital, and the game was postponed until further notice. Upon his arrival at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center, he was given CPR again and was taken to the ICU. It was revealed the the public that he had suffered a cardiac arrest. He remained on a ventilator for two days and was sedated Tuesday, January 3. By Wednesday, Hamlin had progressed to breathing 50% on his own. Thursday morning, Damar woke up and was able to communicate with doctors. The first question the Bills safety asked upon waking up was who won the game, to which medical staff replied, “Yes, Damar, you won. You won the game of life.” Damar spent the weekend watching the Bills play, cheering them on through Twitter. On Monday, Hamlin was released from the ICU and could travel back to Buffalo, where he was admitted to Buffalo General Hospital.
Hamlin’s incident shook the whole sports community, with most teams taking a day or two off of practice. All news sources were focused on the well-being of Damar Hamlin. Although tragic, the aftermath of the event will be everlasting. At the time of the incident, many professional athletes tweeted prayers for Damar. Furthermore, many fans of both the Bengals and Bills traveled to the hospital to pray for Hamlin and show love to the facility. All 32 NFL teams changed their profile pictures on social media to read “Pray for Damar” and illuminated their stadiums in blue and red to support the Bills and Damar. Other sports, including basketball and hockey, wore apparel to show their support. Although playoffs will start soon in the NFL, a time that often divides fans, players, and teams, have been able to come together with one goal in mind: supporting Damar Hamlin and the Bills. In 2020, Hamlin created a Gofundme page to raise money for children in lower-income communities with the goal of providing new toys and gifts for Christmas. With an original goal of $2500, the page has garnered more than $8 million in five days.
The NFL celebrated Damar the whole weekend, encouraging each team to outline the 3, Hamlin’s jersey number, on the 30-yard line in either blue or red. Furthermore, players, coaches, and staff members wore Hamlin’s jerseys or a “For Damar” shirt to the game. For the Bills especially, playing again was something special. On the opening kickoff, Bills returner Nyhime Hines returned the kick 96 yards for a touchdown, which hadn’t been done by the Bills in three years and three months.