Hope For Hamlin


Catherine Stoddard

Bills’ Safety, Damar Hamlin, tackling Bengals’ receiver Tee Higgins.

Chase Carty, Staff Writer

   Whether you watched on NBC, NFL Network, or ESPN, odds are you were tuned into the Bills v. Bengals game after the game’s postponement last week. For those unaware, Bills’ safety Damar Hamlin suffered a cardiac arrest shortly after an open-field tackle on Bengals’ receiver Tee Higgins roughly nine minutes into the game. Hamlin collapsed almost immediately after standing up following the tackle, not too much later it was observed that his heart stopped beating. Thankfully, his heartbeat was restored by sideline team physicians before briskly transporting him to a nearby medical center. A statement issued by the Buffalo Bills at 1:48 the following morning elaborates further on Hamlin’s condition.

   “His heartbeat was restored on the field and he was transferred to the University of Cincinnati Medical Center… He is currently sedated and listed in critical condition,” according to a press release. 

   Plenty of analysts across multiple platforms commented on the tragedy, but no one had as big of a verbal impact than seven-year ESPN analyst and former NFL player Ryan Clark. Not only did he highlight the magnitude of the situation by acknowledging that what happened to Hamlin “isn’t just football,” but he also empathized with the Bills players based on his own similar experience. 

   In the midst of the 2007 season, Clark suffered a splenic infarction because of hereditary sickle cell anemia during an away game against the Broncos. 

   “I watched my teammates, for days, come to my hospital bed and just cry. I had them call me and tell me that they didn’t think I was gonna make it. And now this team has to deal with that, and they have no answers,” Clark said. 

   Clark related to Hamlin specifically, as they were both young players that were “living [their] dream… getting ready to play the biggest game of [their] NFL career.” 

   He followed that comparison by reminding viewers that “now, he fights for his life.” This statement has been taken very well by the media, and Clark has been receiving lots of praise since.

   On the contrary, a Tweet that the media deemed insensitive and dismissive was posted by ESPN2 and First Take host Skip Bayless. While Hamlin’s condition was still unclear, Bayless begged this query, 

   “…the NFL is considering postponing the rest of this game – but how? This late in the season, a game of this magnitude is crucial to the regular-season outcome … which suddenly seems so irrelevant.”  

   It’s no surprise that Bayless prioritizing the outcome of the game and its effect on NFL standings over someone’s life was found to be distasteful. Fans everywhere questioned whether he should be allowed to keep his job over these comments, even after he followed up on his original Tweet.

   “Nothing is more important than that young man’s health,” Bayless wrote. “That was the point of my last Tweet. I’m sorry if that was misunderstood but his health is all that matters. Again, everything else is irrelevant…”

   The vast majority of social media users covering the situation didn’t take kindly to this apology, with  the Alabama football blog page (@rollbamaroll) ridiculing him for what he said.

   “’It’s your fault for misunderstanding me,’ is not the apology you think it is… you are paid to *communicate* for a living. You failed at it, and now are blaming others for that failure,” they said.

   In 2020, Hamlin founded a toy drive in which he set a goal of $2,500 to buy toys for kids whose families were heavily impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Fans discovered this fundraiser on GoFundMe, and blew the initial goal of $2,500 out of the water. Fans have donated $4.5 million through 125,000 donations within 18 hours following Hamlin’s injury.

   Hamlin remains in critical condition as players, coaching staff and fans everywhere keep him in their prayers. Unfortunately, this is all we can do until a statement by the hospital regarding his condition is released.   


 As of Jan. 6, 2023, it’s been reported that Hamlin is awake and communicating.

 “Did we win?” Was the first thing he asked upon waking up, and earlier today he was able to tell his teammates and coaches he loves them via FaceTime. 

As previously stated, the game was postponed following Hamlin’s cardiac arrest. However, the NFL confirmed that the game will not be made up. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell called this a “difficult, but necessary” decision.

Hamlin’s breathing tube was removed overnight.