The life-threatening injury to Damar Hamlin of the Buffalo Bills during a Monday night game in Cincinnati against the Bengals resonated around the league and the world of sports.
Here’s what to know:
In the first quarter of the game, Hamlin, a 24-year-old safety, tackled Bengals receiver Tee Higgins, taking him to the ground. Hamlin stood up after the tackle and took two steps but then collapsed to the turf. Higgins was not hurt.
Hamlin went into cardiac arrest and was administered CPR, and his heartbeat was revived on the field. He was then taken to the hospital in critical condition. The information on his condition was released by the team and was more candid than typical N.F.L. injury reports.
After about an hour, and through conflicting reports about whether play might resume, the game was postponed indefinitely.
Fans were reliant on the game’s broadcaster, ESPN, for news about a terrifying injury rather than scores and highlights. “It was a nightmare,” said Joe Buck, the game’s play-by-play announcer. “It certainly was nothing that anyone is ever prepared for. You have all that hype and buildup, and everyone can’t wait to watch this matchup, and in the snap of a finger it’s completely different. Football just goes out the window.”
How is Hamlin now?
The Bills said on Wednesday afternoon that Hamlin remained in critical condition at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center, “with signs of improvement noted yesterday and overnight.” Hamlin was expected to remain in intensive care, the team said.
What caused the cardiac arrest?
It is not yet known why Hamlin’s heart stopped. But cardiac experts said the blow to his chest may have sent his heart into an arrhythmia. That injury is unusual: The chest must be struck in a brief moment — about 20 milliseconds — while the heart is relaxing.
Who is Damar Hamlin?
Hamlin is from McKees Rocks, Pa., and went to college at nearby Pittsburgh. He was a sixth-round draft pick in 2021 and became a starter for the Bills in September 2022.
While in college, he organized a toy drive. In the aftermath of his injury, about 200,000 people have combined to contribute more than $6 million to it, including the star quarterbacks Tom Brady and Russell Wilson, among many others. Jordon Rooney, a marketing representative for Hamlin, has said the money will go to Hamlin’s charitable foundation.
“Whether it was adversity or high times, working for his charity, or helping an athlete or student of lesser caliber,” said Terry Totten, his high school coach at Central Catholic. “Whatever it was, he was steady, calm and confident in himself. A true leader by example. He’s an incredible person.”
What has the reaction been?
Players returned to practice on Wednesday, and some said Hamlin’s injury was prompting reflection and conversation about his health and the risks players take with injuries.
Calais Campbell, a veteran defensive end for the Baltimore Ravens, said it was “just natural” to ask whether playing football was worth its dangers.
“You wouldn’t be doing yourself justice if you didn’t contemplate the risk that you were taking and ask if you want to keep putting yourself in that position,” Campbell said. Referring to the hit Hamlin took before his heart stopped beating, Campbell said, “I keep thinking that I’ve tackled like that hundreds of times and I’ve been fine. But what if I’m not fine the next time?”
Giants safety Julian Love, who met Hamlin as they considered which college teams to play for, said Hamlin’s injury was not easy to compartmentalize.
“A lot of people in this building have never seen something like that,” he said. “Ever in football. And so it’s a very freak thing. I’m not gonna sit here and say it’s not hard to push forward.”
President Biden, speaking Wednesday after arriving back at the White House from a trip to Kentucky, told reporters that he had spoken with Hamlin’s mother and father. Asked if he believed the N.F.L. was getting too dangerous, Biden said: “I don’t know how you avoid it. I don’t.”
Where does the game stand?
The game was halted after nine minutes with the Bengals ahead, 7-3. The league has said the game would not resume this week; that leaves it with several options, none of them ideal.
It could shift the playoff schedule forward to get the remainder of the game in, call the game a tie, cancel it entirely, or award it to the Bengals, among other possibilities.
The game is important from a competitive perspective: It could have a significant impact on which team gets the A.F.C.’s No. 1 seed and a bye in the first round of the playoffs.
The games scheduled for this weekend — the last week of the regular season — are for now moving forward as planned. The Bengals said Wednesday afternoon that they planned to play the Ravens on Sunday at 1 p.m. Eastern.
How is it affecting Buffalo?
It has been a tough year for the city, with a mass shooting at a supermarket in May and a deadly blizzard over the holidays. The Bills, who are 12-3, had been a bright spot.
“It has been the snowball that I’ve been hoping would end,” said Mark Poloncarz, the Erie County executive. “Karma owes us.”