Fear On The Football Field: How The NFL Handled Damar Hamlin’s Collapse

CINCINNATI, OH – The Buffalo Bills – Cincinnati Bengals game will not be resumed this week, after Bills safety Damar Hamlin collapsed on the field during the game Monday night. Hamlin was still in critical condition as of Tuesday night. He spent Monday night in the intensive care unit at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center and is still there Tuesday.

The 24-year-old collapsed after making a tackle during the first quarter of the game. Medical staff restored his heartbeat on the field after it stopped. Trainers administered CPR for more than eight minutes, then gave Hamlin oxygen as he was put in an ambulance and taken off the field. Indianapolis Colts safety Rodney McLeod, Jr. says, “As players injuries are always our deepest fear and we glamorize this sport simply because of the financial stability that it can provide for our families. But, often, you know we tend to try to remove any of those thoughts the moment we hit the field that injuries are real and they exist in this sport.”

The bills have confirmed Hamlin suffered cardiac arrest. There’s no official word yet on what exactly happened, but one suspected cause is commotio cordis. The American Heart Association says it’s the leading cause of deaths in youth baseball in the United States, and it’s rare: typically there are two to three cases per year. Adventist Health Glendale’s Dr. Anthony Cardillo is an emergency medicine physician. He says, “This is exceedingly rare. It’s almost like getting struck by lightning.” And neurosurgeon Dr. Sanjay Gupta says, “You think about the chest wall and the projectile or the blow coming to the heart at that exact time when the heart is beating in a very particular way.”

Hamlin’s family released a statement Tuesday, saying in part, “On behalf of our family, we want to express our sincere gratitude for the love and support shown to Damar during this challenging time. We are deeply moved by the prayers, kind words, and donations from fans around the country. Please keep Damar in your prayers. We will release updates as soon as we have them.”

This episode features:
WCCB TV’s Morgan Fogarty
Bahakel Sports reporter Jeff Taylor
WCCB News @ Ten anchor Gary Brode