Braden Fracassi ‘23, Social Media Manager
On Monday, Jan. 2, the Cincinnati Bengals were playing the Buffalo Bills. Late in the first quarter Bengals wide receiver, Tee Higgins, caught a pass and was tackled by Bills Safety Damar Hamlin. After Hamlin made the tackle, he stood up, stumbled backwards and fell to the ground. He experienced cardiac arrest.
Shock shot across the whole stadium and nation, but the first responders were ready. The Bills assistant athletic trainer, Denny Kellington, saved Hamlin’s life on the field by providing CPR and chest compressions to get his heart going again. Hamlin was immediately sent to the University of Cincinnati Hospital.
The rest of the game was canceled as both teams were not in any mental or emotional shape to play the rest of the game. They all saw a player, teammate, and a friend almost die on the field. Bills coach Doug McDermott and Bengals coach Zac Taylor met in the tunnel to discuss canceling the game, and that ended up being the ultimate decision. Senior and football player Simeon Mardossian said, “Thankfully, the NFL just canceled the game. I couldn’t imagine going out to play a game after one of my teammates had a heart attack.”
Hamlin was in the University of Cincinnati Medical Center for almost a week. He woke up on January 4th, but he was nonverbal. He was communicating with the doctors through written messages. The first thing the 24-year-old asked was, “Who won the game?” To which doctor Timothy Pritts responded, “Yes, Damar, you won the game of life.”
That news was a relief to so many people around the nation. Everyone was rooting for Hamlin, as the support from around the nation for him was remarkable. Damar Hamlin’s charity, Chasing M’s Community Toy Drive, which had less than three thousand dollars in donations before his injury, had now received over seven million dollars in donations from around the nation.
When Sunday came, the Bills still had to play a game against the Patriots. The game could not have started any better for the Bills as Nyheim Hines returned the opening kickoff. The crowd in Buffalo exploded after that touchdown happened. The Bills ended up winning the game 35-23 for Hamlin, and securing the two seed in the playoffs.
Hamlin was transferred to the Buffalo hospital on Jan. 10 and was released to go home on Jan. 11. The road to recovery may be long, but he will have plenty of people by his side to help.