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THE MOJ: Hamlin collapse another hard reminder athletes are as human as any of us

Forget about football, all anyone wishes is that the young man will go on to lead a full life
An artist’s portrait of Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin is displayed outside UC Medical Center, where Hamlin remains hospitalized, Thursday, Jan. 5, 2023, in Cincinnati. Hamlin has shown what physicians treating him are calling “remarkable improvement over the last 24 hours,” the team announced on Thursday, three days after the player went into cardiac arrest and had to be resuscitated on the field. (AP Photo/Joshua A. Bickel)

Damar Hamlin’s cardiac incident during Monday Night Football was a traumatic thing to watch.

We tuned in expecting to see a pretty good football game between the Buffalo Bills and the Cincinnati Bengals.

Instead with 6:12 remaining in the first quarter - after what seemed to be just another ordinary play - we saw a young 24-year-old man collapse and then were horrified to watch as he battled for his life.

As ESPN’s Ryan Clark stated, it was something that no one was prepared for.

Clark – who did an amazing job under the most difficult of circumstances for a broadcaster– talked about being on the field when players have torn ACL’s, broken arms or legs – but put things into perspective when he stated that no one has ever seen a teammate go down and receive CPR as well as require an automated external defibrillator as was the case with the Buffalo Bills player.

As Clark pointed out, even with the scariest of neck injuries you would still get a thumbs up from the injured player knowing that he was OK. There was no thumbs up when Hamlin left the field after being worked on for 19 minutes.

The Bills and Bengals were two teams who were going to play a football game – unfortunately they were witness to an event that they will never forget.

The good news is that Hamlin’s condition continues to improve. Three days after the incident, the medical staff at the University of Cincinnati where Hamlin is being treated claimed ‘substantial improvement’ in his condition. In fact, Hamlin was able to speak to his teammates via Facetime on Friday morning.

It is hopefully a sign that this story will have a happy ending. Forget about football, all that anyone wishes is that the young man will go on to lead a full and productive life.

Hamlin’s cardiac incident was another reminder that athletes are human.

NHLer’s Jay Bouwmeester, Jiri Fischer and Chris Pronger all had cardiac events during games. Trail, B.C. native Craig Cunningham suffered ventricular fibrillation - which is a cardiac rhythm disturbance that causes the heart to stop working – prior to an American Hockey League game on November 19, 2016.

The most tragic story was that of Detroit Lions wide receiver Chuck Hughes, who died of a heart attack during a game against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field on October 24, 1971. Hughes was going back to the huddle when he collapsed and passed away at 28 years of age – the only NFL player to have died on the field during a game.

Luckily, history didn’t repeat itself on Monday and the biggest reason why were the actions of the outstanding medical teams from both the Bengals and Bills as well as the first responders who saved Hamlin’s life.

As gut-wrenching as this was to watch, there were some who were devoid of emotion.

Controversial Fox Sports talk show host Skip Bayless tweeted asking how could the NFL postpone the game given the impact it would have on the standings. The NFL itself came under some criticism after it was alleged that the league’s initial reaction was to continue playing the game until both head coaches – Buffalo’s Sean McDermott and Cincinnati’s’ Zac Taylor – put an end to that idea.

Yet when it was all said and done, the best of the human spirit showed.

Whether it was fans from both teams holding vigils and praying outside the facility where Hamlin was being treated or the waves of support that the Hamlin family received from everyone, sympathy and compassion prevailed.

Perhaps the most touching part of all of this was the generosity shown to Hamlin’s “Chasing M’s” Foundation.

The foundation had set up a GoFundMe page prior to Christmas in an effort to raise $2,500 for a toy drive to benefit a daycare facility run by his mother Nina.

By Thursday afternoon, there had been $7.3 million donated to the cause.

Hopefully when that information is passed on to Damar Hamlin, it will put a smile on his face.

Veteran B.C. sports personality Bob “the Moj” Marjanovich writes twice weekly for Black Press Media. And check out his weekly podcast every Monday at Today in B.C. or your local Black Press Media website.

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