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What we learned about the NFL in the aftermath of Damar Hamlin’s cardiac arrest


The NFL has skilled nothing fairly like the previous couple of days.

After Damar Hamlin suffered a cardiac arrest and was rushed to the hospital, Cincinnati Bengals followers embraced their Buffalo Payments counterparts within the Paycor Stadium, women and men broke into tears, whereas others prayed.

Hour-by-hour, day-by-day, the emotion and concern for Hamlin’s well being swelled like an ocean – the gamers and coaches of 32 groups, in addition to NFL followers, anxiously ready for any updates on the Payments security’s wellbeing.

20230105-sports-Damar Hamlin

After watching the scary occasion unfold, Colts rookie security Rodney Thomas II drove from Indianapolis to Cincinnati to see his pal Hamlin. In the meantime, NFL followers held vigils outdoors the College of Cincinnati Medical Heart the place Hamlin was sedated and intubated within the ICU.

After arriving, Thomas held his pal’s hand and talked to him.

“I do know he may hear me,” mentioned Thomas of Hamlin, whom he had met at Central Catholic Excessive Faculty in Pittsburgh, the place the 2 have been teammates and have become shut mates.

“Even when he couldn’t hear me, it didn’t matter. I mentioned what I needed to say.”

Michael Addis, professor within the division of psychology at Clark College in Worcester, Massachusetts, instructed CNN Sports activities that what we’ve witnessed over the previous couple of days exhibits the game’s evolution, a growth he attributes to altering views of masculinity the place males are allowed to “expertise emotional vulnerability.”

“I believe it’s an indication that we’re higher ready than we have been 1 / 4 of a century in the past to acknowledge emotional and bodily well being issues in males as a result of, in fact, all that kind of conventional legal guidelines of masculinity educate us to cover that,” mentioned Addis, who’s an skilled in males’s melancholy.

Payments quarterback Josh Allen instructed reporters on Thursday that the Buffalo gamers had been offering loads of emotional help to one another.

“We’ve had some very open and trustworthy and deep talks,” mentioned Allen. “Some unbelievable, this sounds bizarre, however some embraces as males, simply hugging any person and truly simply leaning into them. There’s been a variety of that going round and also you want each little bit of it, you actually do.

“I believe the truth that we simply hold listening to excellent news about Damar, it simply retains pushing us ahead.” added Allen, referring to Hamlin’s “substantial enchancment” within the hospital.

Hamlin is ready to talk by shaking his head, nodding or writing transient notes, mentioned College of Cincinnati Well being Dr. Timothy Pritts, a part of the participant’s medical group.

On Friday, the Payments introduced Hamlin’s respiration tube had been eliminated in a single day and that he FaceTimed into their group assembly to speak to gamers and coaches. He had a easy message: “Love you boys.”

Bills safety Hamlin prior to the start  of a preseason game on Saturday, August 28, 2021.

The NFL introduced on Thursday that the sport between the Payments and the Bengals has been canceled, although the ultimate week of standard season motion begins on Saturday, with the playoff panorama to then turn out to be clearer.

Nonetheless, returning to motion so shortly might be a giant ask for gamers after such a “traumatic occasion,” in response to Addis.

“For some folks, getting again to enterprise is what it’s all about. And it’s a wholesome distraction from what they’re experiencing,” mentioned Addis. “For different folks, there’s no means that they’re going to get again to enterprise so early.”

Cincinnati quarterback Joe Burrow mentioned in the course of the week {that a} return to motion on Sunday will more than likely be felt in a different way by his teammates.

“I’m positive in the event you polled the locker room there’d be combined votes on that,” Burrow instructed reporters on Wednesday.

“Personally, I believe enjoying goes to be powerful, however there’s people who wish to play, too, and there’s people who don’t. Personally, I in all probability wish to play,” added Burrow.

“I believe getting again to as regular as you possibly can as quick as you possibly can is personally how I sort of take care of these sorts of issues. However like I mentioned, everybody has a distinct means of coping with it.”

Bengals quarterback Burrow speaks with the media on Wednesday, January 4.

Payments quarterback Allen mentioned that whereas “individuals are going to be modified ceaselessly” from what befell on Monday, he thinks “placing that helmet again on was a extremely good factor for our group and simply to undergo that course of.”

Nonetheless, returning to motion could also be harder for some gamers following Hamlin’s mid-game cardiac arrest, in response to Addis, not least that they could have skilled their first “existential awakening to their very own mortality.”

“These gamers are used to seeing damaged bone. They’re used to concussion protocols,” Addis mentioned. “This was an bizarre, run-of-the-mill play that got here near leading to a participant’s demise.

“So I believe for the entire gamers concerned, in addition to doubtlessly for followers, it is a time the place the danger of set off of trauma responses could be very actual.

“For a few of these gamers, relying upon experiences in their very own lives, this can convey again a few of these emotions.”

Over the previous couple of years, the sporting world has turn out to be extra aware about athletes’ psychological well being, however because the NFL season nears its conclusion, Addis questions if gamers may have the time and the house to course of their feelings.

“Whether or not that matches with the financial calls for of the NFL and the fan calls for, it simply stays to be seen,” mentioned Addis.

“I’m actually curious to see how this all performs out, as a result of I don’t suppose the establishment of the game is able to be as versatile about this because the gamers would possibly want.”

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell mentioned in a memo to groups Tuesday that the heads of participant engagement and group clinicians for all golf equipment have obtained details about psychological well being and help assets for gamers and workers.

Allen reacts to Hamlin's collapse during the first quarter of the game against the Bengals.

Inside 10 seconds of collapsing, Hamlin was receiving life-saving medical consideration.

Payments head coach Sean McDermott mentioned on Thursday that assistant athletic coach Denny Kellington was the one that carried out on-field CPR and saved Hamlin’s life.

This season the NFL has been extensively criticized for the way in which it has dealt with participant concussions, however the quick response of medical personnel to Hamlin’s collapse has been extensively praised.

That readiness to behave shortly within the face of an emergency is the results of lengthy hours of planning and preparation, in response to Dr. Jonathan A. Drezner, who’s director of the College of Washington’s medication heart for sports activities cardiology and group doctor for the Seattle Seahawks.

The medical workers of NFL groups have a “a written emergency motion plan,” together with sudden cardiac arrest, head and neck trauma and stomach or chest trauma, in response to Drezner, who defined these plans are practised twice earlier than the season begins – as soon as at their observe facility and as soon as on the stadium which hosts video games.

Then in a “pre-game medical timeout,” each units of medical workers, together with further physicians, airway administration physicians and neurotrauma consultants meet with the officers an hour earlier than kickoff of NFL matches “to ensure everybody’s on the identical web page to do what must occur in case there may be emergency,” mentioned Drezner.

“So it’s kind of planning for the ‘what ifs.’ And so I believe throughout the NFL, we even have fairly a strong emphasis on being ready,” added the Seahawks group doctor.

“I believe that was evidenced within the response that Damar Hamlin obtained from the medical group, each of the Buffalo Payments and the ancillary assist that was accessible in Cincinnati. And hopefully if there’s a medical emergency at any NFL sport {that a} response like that may be replicated,” mentioned Drezner.

Bills players huddle and pray after Hamlin collapsed on the field.

Earlier than the NFL season begins, gamers are subjected to annual electrocardiograms in an try and establish preexisting coronary heart situations, in response to Drezner.

Groups additionally analysis gamers’ household historical past of coronary heart illness or sudden cardiac arrest and if picked up, will then examine additional.

Drezner says he doesn’t suppose that the “danger components for cardiac arrest within the NFL are totally different than another sport.”

“Most sudden cardiac arrest in younger aggressive athletes is from a preexisting coronary heart situation. And once more, these are the varieties of coronary heart situation that you just search for via screening, however no screening is ideal.”

Within the aftermath of Hamlin’s collapse, the entire league confirmed its help for the protection and the Payments, altering their social media profile photos to say “Pray for Damar” and skylines throughout the nation turned blue for Hamlin.

Payments basic supervisor Brandon Beane voiced his appreciation for the help from throughout the NFL group over the previous week, calling it a “household.”

“This week each group modified their brand on their social media web page to wish for Damar, I don’t suppose I’ve ever seen that,” Beane instructed reporters.

“And, yeah we go to battle, however ultimately life is the primary battle, and to see that unity from gamers, coaches, GMs, house owners, followers is exceptional. However I believe it’s an excellent gentle, it sheds an ideal gentle on the NFL. The NFL is really a household.”

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