A terrifyingly sober reminder about the game of football and what we can all take away from it

Oftentimes when millions across the globe gather to watch NFL football games on Sundays, the human side of the equation is lost.

Between the big hits, mind-blowing catches, and incredible feats of athleticism undertaken by some of the more larger-than-life personalities in the world, the human aspect of it all is often left behind.

Empathy is often put on the back burner when watching sports.

‘How could he drop that?’

‘Why didn’t he hold on to the ball?’

‘(Insert player name) stinks.’

There are a lot of times in which we as spectators and media members alike forget these athletes that we spend so much of our time monitoring and tracking because they’re on our fantasy football team or we have money on them to reach a certain statistic, are humans just like we are.

Too often we view them as pawns for our entertainment, forgetting that just like us, they have moms, dads, aunts, uncles, wives, husbands, children, and friends.

They also have bones that break and hearts that beat just like everyone else in the world.

Throughout the 2022-23 NFL season, we have experienced very sobering reminders of this.

Whether it was the trio of gruesome concussions suffered by Miami Dolphins quarterback, Tua Tagovailoa or the recent neck injury to Eagles defensive end Josh Sweat in which Sweat was carted off and transported to a local hospital, it’s been a constant reminder that we have to do better.

The latest, and perhaps most frightening reminder came on Monday night when 24-year-old Buffalo Bills safety, Damar Hamlin made a routine tackle, stood up, and collapsed.

At the moment, it seemed like the kind of hit we see all the time, but this was different.

What followed was one of (if not THE) most terrifying situations ever witnessed on an NFL football field.

Hamlin was administered CPR and an automatic external defibrillator (A.E.D.) was used on the field to help restore his heartbeat.

Any combination of words along the lines of tragic, surreal, or scary can be used to describe the events that took place on Monday night.

However, as of the writing of this (January 6th), things have taken a dramatic shift towards a positive outcome for Hamlin.

And I think that’s the most important thing, more important than playoff seeding or schedule dynamics, the fact that Hamlin’s condition is improving.

There is a multitude of things that can be drawn from this equally tragic and unprecedented situation, but chief above them all that we can do is learn and grow.

As the NFL prepares to kick off the final week of the regular season later this weekend, more than anything, this situation exemplifies the fact that these are living breathing people behind the helmets and shoulder pads.

It’s important to remember that the game of football is just that, a game.

Sure, it’s how hundreds of thousands of people make their living, but we must remember that across 32 teams, for six months of the calendar year, over 1,700 people put their lives and mental well-being on the line for the entertainment of millions.

Football experienced an unprecedented occurrence on Monday night and my personal hope is that it somehow creates league-wide change, specifically from a business perspective.

Players put their bodies on the line for the billion-dollar industry that is the NFL, yet post-retirement are only provided with health insurance for up to five years in total.

And despite being the most brutal of the three major U.S. sports, NFL players’ contracts are only partially guaranteed. I think it’s time for that to change.

NFL players run themselves into the ground to 1) live their dreams and 2) make a better life for themselves and their families, and they deserve to be more than fully compensated for it.

Monday night was an uncomfortable reminder of the harsh and somewhat sobering realities that come with playing a sport that you love. It was a night filled with prayer, difficult conversations, and reflection and it’s also a night that we hope to never experience ever again.

For one night the machine stopped and in the worst way possible, it created a platform for the conversation on how the future of football can be better received by fans, made safer for current and future players, and past players can be better accommodated.

Please consider donating to Damar Hamlin’s Toy Drive if you can, the link is provided below.

Damar Hamlin’s Chasing M’s Foundation Community Toy Drive

Cover Image: Getty Images

Author: Pierrot Baptiste Jr.

I am the creator of The Philly Blitz and I am committed to delivering innovative and interesting coverage on both the Eagles and Sixers. Contact Information: Twitter - @pierreb3_ Email: pierrotjr3@gmail.com

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