The NFL has had to grapple with serious questions about player safety.
Head and neck trauma have particularly been under scrutiny.
And an NFL game was postponed after one terrifying incident.
The Buffalo Bills and Cincinnati Bengals faced off in a marquee matchup that could’ve decided the number one seed in the AFC playoffs.
Under the new playoff format, the top seed has extra significance because that’s the only team that gets a first-round bye in the playoffs.
However, all of the debate about playoff seeding immediately ended early in the game when Bills defensive back Damar Hamlin collapsed on the field after a collision.
Typically head and neck trauma are the scariest injuries for players, but Hamlin went into cardiac arrest after climbing to his feet.
CPR was administered to Hamlin on the field for nine minutes before he was transported to the University of Cincinnati hospital.
The Buffalo Bills released a statement that read:
“Damar Hamlin suffered a cardiac arrest following a hit in the Buffalo Bills’ game versus the Cincinnati Bengals. His heartbeat was restored on the field and he was transferred to the University of Cincinnati Medical Center for further testing and treatment. He is currently sedated and listed in critical condition.”
Hamlin is only 24 years old, so the cardiac distress is especially shocking.
Hamlin’s family said in a statement:
“On behalf of our family, we want to express our sincere gratitude for the love and support shown to Damar during this challenging time. We are deeply moved by the prayers, kind words, and donations from fans around the country. We also want to acknowledge the dedicated first responders and healthcare professionals at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center who have provided exceptional care to Damar. We feel so blessed to be a part of the Buffalo Bills organization and to have their support. We also want to thank Coach Taylor and the Bengals for everything they’ve done.”
The NFL has not yet said what it plans to do about the game.
If there were no playoff implications, the game could be canceled.
But because both teams are in contention for the number one seed, there are limited options.
There are no makeup dates available unless the NFL shifts the entire postseason back one week, which would mean there would be no bye week before the Super Bowl.
If the game were canceled, then the Kansas City Chiefs would have the inside track to the top seed because they would have played an extra game.
And if the game ends in a tie, the Bills and Bengals are punished because a tie counts as half a win and half a loss.
Regardless, the number one priority is the health of Hamlin.
Hamlin started a toy drive fundraiser with a goal of $2,500.
Since his injury, the fundraiser has reached close to $5 million.