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Broncos, NFL players react to scary injury on Monday Night Football to Bills’ safety

Second-year safety Damar Hamlin reportedly suffered cardiac arrest after a hit that caused him to collapse and required CPR.

Syndication: The Enquirer Kareem Elgazzar/The Enquirer / USA TODAY NETWORK

Good morning, Broncos Country!

If you were watching Monday Night Football, you saw Bills safety Damar Hamlin collapse on the field following a collision with Bengals’ wide receiver Tee Higgins. Hamlin initially jumped up after the hit, took a couple steps and then collapsed, unconscious and not breathing.

It was a terrifying sight on the football field. Players and coaches were visibly upset as they watched medical personnel give Hamlin CPR for approximately 10 minutes.

The second-year safety was transported off the field in an ambulance and taken to the University of Cincinnati Medical Center, where he was intubated and listed in critical condition.

Hamlin’s marketing rep tweeted around 10:45 p.m. EST that Hamlin’s vital signs had returned to normal, and a hospital spokesperson reported around 11:30 p.m. EST that they did not expect to give a condition update before Tuesday morning.

But just before 2 a.m., the Bills tweeted the latest:

During the game - while it was temporarily suspended as medical personnel ran onto the field to administer CPR - current and former NFL players flooded Twitter with messages of love and support for their teammate and friend.

As the teams, NFL and the Players Association grappled with what to do about the game that was just halfway into the first quarter, the NFL announced aout an hour later it would be postponed.

The situation highlighted something we all know but often like to conveniently forget - football is a rough game and there are consequences to a player’s health that can come from it.

Don’t worry, I’m not here to advocate for a sport with fewer hits or less machismo built into the game. Players know there is always a risk of injury and are probably moderately aware of the potential long-term impact on their health as well.

But after last night’s situation - one in which the 24-year-old Hamlin could have died or may still have serious complications from the cardiac arrest he reportedly suffered - I am going to be that person who will remind everyone in the room that football is still just a game.

A game we all love to watch, no doubt. A game we like to get mad about and yell at players for not doing enough to get us what we want. A game we like to make seem bigger than it is because of how invested we feel we are in the outcome.

But none of that is the truth.

We can scream at the players to tackle harder and run faster and don’t drop the ball and “if they touch it, they should catch it” ... but none of us is in that game getting hit. Granted we aren’t making the millions, but I doubt Hamlin is thinking a whole lot about money right now.

Former NFL safety and ESPN analyst Ryan Clark spoke with ESPN’s Scott VanPelt and narrowed down the only thing fans and the NFL should be thinking about in a situation like this - the player’s life.

Clark, a former safety with the Steelers, suffered a scare in 2007 after playing the Broncos. Just before getting on the plane to go home, he developed serious pain and was rushed to the hospital, only to learn he had injured his spleen and needed to remove it immediately. Clark was hospitalized for a month, suffered high fevers and lost almost 40 pounds. He remembered his teammates telling him they thought he wasn’t going to make it.

Clark reminded fans the important thing is the player’s life and even noted that players are certainly part of the so-called “problem” of making the game bigger than it really is. The huge contracts, the personalities, the comments about “going to war” with their teammates all contribute to how important we make sports and competitions.

And nothing is wrong with that, but in a moment like Monday night, remembering the priority is important.

“And so the next time I think that we get upset at our favorite fantasy player or we’re upset that the guy on our team doesn’t make the play and we’re saying he’s worthless, and we’re saying ‘you get to make all of this money’ … we should remember that these men are putting their lives on the line to live their dream,” Clark said. “And tonight Damar Hamlin’s dream became a nightmare for not only himself, but his family and his team.”

While tone-deaf idiots like Skip Bayless wondered out loud (via Twitter) how the NFL could afford to postpone an important game like the Bills-Bengals, hundreds of players around the league - including a lot of Broncos - and pro athletes of many sports, tweeted their prayers for Hamlin, whose condition remained critical overnight.

One heart-warming outcome was that Hamlin’s charity to raise money for toys for kids in his hometown of Pittsburgh - which had a goal of $2,500 - had raised $2 million by midnight and was over $3 million by Tuesday morning.

Broncos/NFL News

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