A Buffalo Bills player recovering from cardiac arrest brightened the mood for the NFL as play resumed this weekend. Yet, even 2,000 miles from his Ohio hospital bed, the terror from Monday’s near-death experience kept Hamlin in the back of his mind.
“Love for Damar” was the theme for Sunday’s 49ers vs. Cardinals game. Players and coaches from both teams wore T-shirts featuring the phrase. The slogan was also seen on screens and handmade signs in the stands of Levi’s stadium. The Niners honored Hamlin before the start of the game, and the “3” in his 30-yard line marking was outlined in red in honor of the player’s jersey number.
As the 49ers and Cardinals players prepared to take the field for the first time since Hamlin’s horrific collapse, there were plenty of reminders of one of the scariest moments in NFL history.
How would you play the game under those circumstances?
NFL players are the masters of that.
When I asked some of them about their abilities after the Niners won 38-13, I heard the same thing over and over again.
“We play soccer.”
Translation: Players know the risks of the game. They play anyway.
“That was what was on my mind. It was amazing to see the love and support for Damar, the color of the shirt and the field,” Fred Warner said. It puts things in perspective…I feel more blessed to be playing this game and I am so grateful that my prayers are being heard. [that] he is recovering ”
Brilliant athletic feats on the NFL field are easy to see. You can’t go wrong with Nick Bosa tossing an offensive lineman on the way to sacking a quarterback or George Kittle performing a ballet act to stay within bounds for a touchdown catch.
But what is not seen and rarely celebrated on Sunday is the level of discipline required to reach the highest levels of the sport. speed.
It’s easy for those of us in the press box, the stands, and watching on TV to ignore the reality of this match we watch so intently every week.
As a player, it’s impossible.
For them, being between the boundaries of the field means straddling the line between life and death.
“You can’t go out and play this game timidly,” said Warner.
So we also need to set aside the brutal realities of sports.
Hamlin’s cardiac arrest challenged that line of thinking. It was a chilling moment for the league as a whole.
But on Sunday, the Niners were able to put the risk aside and play for the reward of the No. 2 seed in the NFC playoffs. They received some help in the morning from the Bills who returned the opening kick of the game 96 yards for a touchdown.
“I saw it and it lifted me up and gave me the momentum to go there,” said Kyle Jusik, a fullback for the Niners.
Still, the realities of the sport were not forgotten.
“We’re in a dangerous sport, every time we set foot in it,” said 49ers running back Elijah Mitchell. “It will always be in the back of your mind, but it’s the sport you play and you just have to get out there and try not to think about it.”
“That’s football,” said safety Talanoa Hufanga. “Any snap you are there, anything can happen.
“We go out and play this sport with passion and love. Hmm… we’re risking our lives [for] when we go out there. But play with a positive mindset and hopefully things will turn out in your favor. ”
No one comes out of the NFL better than they came in. Soccer is a martial art, not a contact sport. It’s not just a dangerous game — it’s a regressive game.
Players being stretched off the field or carted (all the while the league’s television partners switch to commercials) occur countless times.
So when Hamlin collapsed on artificial turf in Cincinnati on Monday, the situation was almost unthinkable.
And when it became clear that the scenario was out of the ordinary, I couldn’t help but think of the absolute worst — Monday was the looming and inevitable for decades. It was a day of calculation that everyone knew from the bottom of their hearts.
The truth lies somewhere in the middle.
Hamlin spent the first half of the week in hospital in critical condition, fighting for his life. However, his cardiac arrest seems to be an extraordinary event. Measured in milliseconds, it could be the result of hitting the exact part of the heart at exactly the wrong time.
Yes, football is probably the reason Hamlin nearly died. But in a sport where nearly every play ends in a collision, Hamlin’s incident appears to be the first time in modern NFL history that someone’s heart stopped after a hit.
how do you make sense of it?
The truth is, it’s not.
You push it sideways to play the game.