Bigger Than a Game


On January 2, 2023, Damar Hamlin fell to the turf without warning. It was during a Monday Night Football game, the Buffalo Bills versus the Cincinnati Bengals. Naturally, many fans were tuning in. The NFL season was coming close to the end, so the stakes were high. Regardless of the game’s “importance” everyone was given a reality check when Hamlin went down and didn’t get back up.

It was during the first quarter of the game that Hamlin collided with Bengals wide receiver Tee Higgins while making a tackle. He struggled to stand but did, though immediately following he fell backward onto the field. Medical professionals immediately rushed to the field once they were made aware of the situation. Almost immediately, they began administering CPR for nearly 10 minutes. Once his heartbeat was restored he was loaded into the ambulance and rushed to the hospital. From there he began to fight for his life, a battle he narrowly won.

It’s what was happening back on the field after he had been taken away that lingered with most. During the agonizing 10 minutes of life-saving CPR and medical attention, Both teams were hit with emotional waves and heartbroken reactions. Most huddled around their teammate to protect him from prying eyes and give him support. Others were too in shock. They couldn’t help but cry. The crowd went as quiet as a football crowd could be. No one knew what was happening, and no one knew what might happen in the coming minutes. It was a very surreal moment. Though it was one that eventually appeared to bring the country closer. 

It seemed as if the entire country rallied around Damar Hamlin and his family. There was an outpouring of support in all different kinds of forms. One of the biggest was a logo and T-shirt made with his number, three, and the quote “love for Demar.” 

Around the same time, there was an outpouring of donations to damar Hamlin’s toy drive. The initial goal had been set to $2500 to purchase toys for children around Christmas. But what wasn’t expected was after his injury on the field, his amount grew and grew until it reached around 8.6 million.

A common pattern in the United States is that it takes something tragic to bring the country together, and this was an example of that. Not only gave a reality check to the dangers of the game and the importance of athletes’ health. But it also highlighted how American Football can be about so much more than who wins or loses.