Buffalo Bills Safety Damar Hamlin’s Injury Ignites Controversy Over NFL Players’ Treatment



Michael Arnwine, Online News Editor

On Monday, January 2, fans from across the United States tuned in to watch the Buffalo Bills play against the Cincinnati Bengals. Within the first quarter, however, the game took a dark turn as Bills safety Damar Hamlin collapsed on the field. Hamlin suffered a serious blow when attempting to tackle  Bengals receiver Tee Higgins. Hamlin’s attempt to stop Higgins resulted in Hamlin taking a direct hit to the chest and head area. Following the collision, he stood up, took two steps, and then collapsed. Medical staff rushed to Hamlin’s aid, providing him with life-saving treatment. During this commotion, some of Hamlin’s fellow teammates were visibly upset and crying, while players from both teams knelt in prayer. CPR was administered for ten minutes until an ambulance arrived; Hamlin was rushed to the University of Cincinnati Hospital.

Hamlin stayed in the intensive care unit for nine days following his injury. It was soon determined that he had suffered from cardiac arrest. His heart stopped twice in total, the first being on the field, while the second occurred at the hospital. Hamlin had also suffered from extensive lung damage, and was thus placed on a ventilator to assist his breathing. Though sports fans everywhere were concerned for Hamlin’s condition, he soon began to show signs of recovery, and was discharged from the hospital on January 9.

Controversy arose due to the NFL’s response after Hamlin’s injury. Following the ambulance taking Hamlin from the field to the University of Cincinnati Hospital, NFL officials announced the game would not be canceled. Instead, they gave the players a mere five minutes to collect themselves before resuming. Both teams were outraged at this decision, stating their desire for the game to be postponed. Senior Danielle Im commented on this, stating “I think if the team wanted to stop the game then they should have, especially considering it was a serious medical accident.” Junior Anagha Konakanchi adds “NFL officials not [immediately] canceling the game after this serious medical emergency really shows their lack of care for their players.” Like Konakanchi, many players and fans feel a similar way, all expressing their concern for the NFL’s treatment of its players. As a result, many have called for the NFL to revise its protocols concerning the actions taken after a player’s injury.

After a few discussions between both the teams coaches, the Buffalo Bills and Cincinnati Bengals collectively decided to ignore the NFL official’s request, and stopped play. Though the NFL did officially announce the cancellation of the game on January 5, some still raised the question of whether the NFL values the players’ lives or the money they generate more.