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


The NFL has seen nothing like the past few days.

After Damar Hamlin suffered cardiac arrest and was rushed to the hospital, Cincinnati Bengals fans embraced their Buffalo Bills counterparts at Baycor Stadium, men and women stormed with tears while others prayed.

Hour by hour and day by day, the emotion and concern for Hamlin’s health swelled like an ocean—players and coaches from 32 teams, as well as NFL fans, eagerly await any updates on the Bills’ safety.

After watching the frightening event unfold, Rodney Thomas II traveled from Indianapolis to Cincinnati to see his friend Hamlin. Meanwhile, NFL fans held vigils outside the University of Cincinnati Medical Center as Hamlin was drugged and intubated in the intensive care unit.

After arriving, Thomas took his friend’s hand and talked to him.

“I know he can hear me,” said Thomas Hamlin, whom he met at Catholic Central High School in Pittsburgh, where the two were teammates and became close friends.

“Even if he can’t hear me, it doesn’t matter. I said what I had to say.”

Michael Addis, a professor in the psychology department at Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts, told CNN Sports that what we’ve seen over the past few days shows the evolution of sports, an evolution he attributes to changing views of masculinity where men are allowed to. “Experience emotional vulnerability.”

“I think it’s a sign that we’re better prepared than we were a quarter-century ago to acknowledge emotional and physical health problems in men because, of course, all the sort of traditional laws of masculinity have taught us to hide that,” said Addis, an expert on men’s depression.

Quarterback Josh Allen Beals told reporters Thursday that the Buffalo players have been giving each other a lot of emotional support.

“We had some very frank, honest and deep conversations,” Allen said. “Some things are unbelievable, it sounds weird, but some embrace like men, just hugging someone and actually leaning in. There was a lot of it and you need every bit of it, you really do.”

“I think the fact that we continue to hear good news about Demar, it just keeps us moving forward.” Allen added, referring to Hamlin’s “substantial improvement” in the hospital.

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Dr. Timothy Britts, who is part of the player’s medical team, said Hamlin is able to communicate by shaking his head, nodding, or writing brief notes.

On Friday, the Bills announced that Hamlin’s breathing tube had been removed overnight and that he walked into their team meeting to talk with players and coaches. He had a simple message: “I love you boys.”

Safety Bills Hamlin before the start of a preseason game on Saturday, August 28, 2021.

The NFL announced Thursday that the game between the Bills and the Bengals has been cancelled, even though the final week of the regular season begins on Saturday, with the playoff scene becoming clearer.

However, returning to work so quickly would be a huge demand for players after such a “shocking event”, according to Addis.

“For some people, going back to work is what it’s all about. It’s a healthy distraction from what they’re going through,” Addis said. “For others, there’s no way to go back to work too soon.”

Cincinnati quarterback Joe Burrow said during the week that returning to action on Sunday will likely be felt differently by his teammates.

“I’m sure if you polled in the changing room, there would be mixed votes on that,” Boro told reporters on Wednesday.

“Personally, I think it will be difficult to play, but there are people who want to play too, and there are people who don’t. I personally want to play,” Burrow added.

“I think getting back to normal as quickly as possible is personally how I deal with these kinds of things. But like I said, everyone has a different way of dealing with it.”

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

Bills quarterback Allen said that while “people will be forever changed” from what happened Monday, he believes “it was a really good thing to put that helmet back on for our team and just move the process forward.”

However, returning to play could be more difficult for some players after Hamlin’s mid-match cardiac arrest, according to Addis, not least because they may have experienced their first “existential awakening to their death”.

“These players are used to seeing broken bones. They are used to concussion protocols,” Addis said. “This was a normal play, it almost killed the player.

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“So I think for all the players involved, as well as for the fans, this is a time when the risk of triggering a shock reaction is very real.

“For some of those players, depending on the experiences in their own lives, this will bring back some of those feelings.”

Over the past few years, the sports world has become more aware of the mental health of athletes, but as the NFL season draws to a close, Addis wonders if players will have the time and space to process their feelings.

“Whether that fits with the NFL’s economic demands and the demands of the fans remains to be seen,” Addis said.

“I’m really curious to see how this all plays out, because I don’t think the sport’s establishment is prepared to be as flexible about this as the players might need them to be.”

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a memo to teams Tuesday that the heads of player engagement and team physicians for all clubs have been given information about mental health and support resources for players and staff.

Allen responded to Hamlin's breakdown during the first quarter of the game against the Bengals.

Within 10 seconds of collapsing, Hamlin was receiving life-saving medical attention.

Bills coach Sean McDermott said Thursday that assistant athletic trainer Denny Killington was the person who performed CPR on the field and saved Hamlin’s life.

The NFL this season was widely criticized for the way it handled players’ concussions, but the immediate response of the medical staff to Hamlin’s collapse was widely praised.

Being prepared to act quickly in the face of an emergency is the result of many hours of planning and preparation, according to Dr. Jonathan A. Drezner, MD, director of the University of Washington Sports Cardiology Center and team physician in Seattle. Seahawks.

NFL teams’ medical staff have a “written emergency action plan,” including sudden cardiac arrest, head and neck trauma, and abdominal or chest trauma, according to Dresner, who explained that those plans are practiced twice before the season begins — once at a training facility and once at a training facility. One in the stadium hosting the matches.

Then in the “pregame medical timeout,” both sets of medical staff, including additional physicians, airway management physicians, and trauma counselors, meet with officials an hour before NFL games “to make sure everyone is on the same page to do what they must.” That happens in an emergency,” Dresner said.

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“So it’s kind of a ‘what if’ planning. And so I think within the NFL, we really have a very strong focus on readiness,” the Seahawks team physician added.

“I think that was demonstrated by the response that Damar Hamlin received from the medical staff, both the Buffalo Bills and the additional assistance that was available at Cincinnati. Hopefully if there was a medical emergency at any NFL game, such a response could be replicated.” Drezner said.

The Bills players gather and pray after Hamlin collapses on the field.

Before the NFL season begins, players have an annual electrocardiogram in an effort to identify pre-existing heart conditions, according to Dresner.

Teams are also looking at players’ family history of heart disease or sudden cardiac arrest, and if caught, they will then investigate further.

Drezner says he doesn’t think “risk factors for cardiac arrest in the NFL are any different from any other sport.”

“Most sudden cardiac arrest in young competitive athletes is due to a pre-existing heart condition. Again, these are the types of heart disease you look for with screening, but no screening is perfect.”

In the aftermath of Hamlin’s collapse, the entire league showed its support for the safety and the Bills, changing his social media profile pictures to say “Pray for Damar” and prospects across the country turned blue for Hamlin.

Bills general manager Brandon Bean appreciated the support from the NFL community over the past week, calling him “family.”

“This week every team changed their slogan on their social media page to pray for Damar, I don’t think I’ve seen that before,” Bean told reporters.

“And yeah, we go into battle, but in the end life is the first fight, and we haven’t heard about the unity between players and coaches and program directors and owners and fans. But I think it’s a good light, it shines a big light on the NFL. The NFL is really family “.

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