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Damar Hamlin and the NFL’S Response to the Incident - by Ted Flint 1/06/23

First, promising news: Damar Hamlin is awake per teammate, “neurologically intact”, and making remarkable progress, per the team. It was, to say the least, an unfortunate turn of events for the 24-year-old Buffalo Bills safety, injured Monday night while making a tackle on a Cincinnati Bengal wide receiver. Doctors are still trying to determine what caused Hamlin to rise to his feet after making the hit, only to collapse into unconsciousness. While there are several potential causes for Hamlin's cardiac arrest, cardiologists suggested that a rare phenomenon called "commotio cordis" was to blame.

The NFL’s response to the incident is puzzling considering what’s at stake for both the Bills and the Bengals. The two teams are vying with the Chiefs for the top seed and a first-round bye in the AFC. It was disturbing to witness the young man falling to the ground motionless and needing CPR in order to breath on his own. Football is a rough sport. Every game, numerous players leave the field injured. They know the risks involved. They get paid huge amounts of money to do what they do. That’s not to say we shouldn’t have taken a moment to reflect on Hamlin’s injury and to pray for his complete recovery. But to suspend the game is over-the-top.

It appears Hamlin will recover. That wasn’t the case with Chuck Hughes. In 1971, the 28-year-old Detroit Lions receiver collapsed on the field in a game against the Chicago Bears. Hughes would never regain consciousness and was pronounced dead nearly an hour later at a nearby hospital. The teams played the final sixty two seconds of the game. That may seem an afterthought in today’s America, but it’s important.

The feminization of America has infected even the NFL. A decade ago, last Monday’s game would have never been postponed for a player collapsing on the field.

Recently, former NFL quarterback Robert Griffin III (RG3) was covering the Michigan vs. TCU game for ESPN. He left in the middle of the game when his wife, Grete Griffin, called to tell him she was in labor. Griffin sprinted off the set, hopped on a plane on New Year's Eve to be with her. But it was a false alarm, his wife didn't end up giving birth that night. Many have expressed how touching it was for Griffin to want to be by his wife’s side, but his place was covering that game. Women have been having babies since Day One. They don’t need their men with them to do that.

In 2017, San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Marquise Goodwin got word during a game that his son died after being born prematurely. He played through the pain and even caught a touchdown pass. Upon crossing the goal line, Goodwin collapsed into tears in the end zone. Goodwin was where he needed to be that day. Duty called and he answered. One doesn’t have to put on cleats and shoulder pads to fulfill their responsibilities.

In 1943, comedian Lou Costello was scheduled to do a show at NBC studios with his partner Bud Abbott, and fellow cast and crew members Mel Blanc, Ken Niles, and Lana Turner, when he received word that his young son fell into the family swimming pool and drowned. Lou Jr. was just two days shy of his first birthday. Upon hearing the news, crew members decided to bring in a then unknown, Mickey Rooney, to take over for Costello; the mantra was "the show must go on. “It did. A grieving Costello went through with the show and did what men did in those days. He was an entertainer. And he entertained despite the worst news any parent could ever hear. Griffin could learn something from Goodwin and Costello.

After America was attacked on 9/11, the nation mourned its dead, then began the process of rebuilding what had been torn down. The show, or the game, like life, goes on. Time for the NFL to do the same.

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