American football player Damar Hamlin suffered a cardiac arrest in a match between the Bills and Bengals on Monday; he remains in hospital in a critical condition; an update from the Bills on Wednesday says the 24-year-old is showing “signs of improvement”; US President Joe Biden has spoken to family “at length.” The incident occurred during the game on monday night, with CPR administered to him on the field for approximately 10 minutes before he was taken to the University of Cincinnati Medical Center.
The 24-year-old Bills defensive back had collapsed to the ground after making what appeared to be a routine tackle on Bengals receiver Tee Higgins midway through the first quarter of Monday’s game.
As the ambulance carrying the injured Damar Hamlin rolled slowly off the field in Cincinnati, a huddle of players and team staff knelt in a massive yet intimate circle on the field. They bowed their heads, some placing hands on each other’s shoulders and others with tears streaming down their faces, in a moment of spontaneous prayer led by the team’s chaplain, Len Vanden Bos.
The hushed crowd at Paycor Stadium burst into applause as the players knelt and again as they rose. It was the first of many prayers in an extraordinary display of public piety that has unfurled across the country in the hours and days after Mr. Hamlin’s collapse after what looked like a routine collision early in the game.
“I think we all have to recognize the power of prayer from coaches, players, the staff and the fans that was in that stadium, and the people watching from around the world,” Troy Vincent, the executive vice president of football operations at the N.F.L., told reporters Wednesday afternoon. “There is power in prayer.”
Family members of the American football star say they are “deeply moved” by fan support after the incident. In their first remarks, Hamlin’s family said they wanted to share their “sincere gratitude for the love and support” from fans, including through donations, according to the statement shared by the NFL on Tuesday. “Your generosity and compassion mean the world to us,” they said.
The NFL Players Association – a labour union representing the athletes – said that they were focused on “the health of our brother, Damar Hamlin”, adding that they would ensure both Bills and Bengals players receive support during this time.
The safety of American football has been much debated in recent years but usually over concussion rather than cardiac risks. Blunt trauma is common in contact sports, but it’s rare that it causes heart issues like this. A direct hit to the chest can result in cardiac arrest. That’s when the heart stops beating properly and is unable to do its job of pumping blood around the body. It’s different to a heart attack, which happens when blood supply to the heart muscle is cut off.
In Hamlin’s case, medics were able to quickly get his heart beating again. It’s not yet known what internal injuries he may have sustained from the incident and whether there has been any significant damage to his heart.