By Conrad Clowers
Herald Sports Writer
Back in 1971 the Detroit Lions and the Chicago Bears had a fierce battle. Chuck Hughes was a star receiver for the Detroit Lions. It would be the last game Hughes would ever play. The Lions receiver collapsed on the field and later died. The players and fans were stunned at the rare event. It would be 51 years later that a similar fear overtook everyone watching.
Damar Hamlin of the Buffalo Bills would do what he’s paid to do. He tackled the Bengals’ Tee Higgins after a Joe Burrow pass completion. After standing up to approach the Bills huddle after play, Hamlin would not make it back to the huddle. He would collapse from cardiac arrest.
An entire stadium filled with players, fans, team personal, and security would watch in fear and utter disbelief. When a medical professional was seen giving CPR, the fear level was raised to another level. Hamlin would be taken away in an ambulance and left in critical condition at a Cincinnati hospital. After the teams would clear the field, a stadium with around 66 thousand people had no idea what to do. There were no cheers, no boos, no Who-Deys,..nothing. Just complete silence.
Eventually the game would be canceled, and all fans would leave the field. Some crying, some scared and some praying.
There were no Bengal or Bills fans. At that moment there were just a stadium full of Damar Hamlin fans. I was like everyone else. Stunned and just wanted to get out of there and think of Damar.
The field level tunnel is where most media leave. On this day nobody was leaving that way. The entire tunnel was closed for the players to deal with what just happened to their brother. Nearly every channel on every major station was reporting on the horror that was witnessed during the game.
At press time Damar Hamlin remains in critical condition at a Cincinnati hospital.
The events of the night of January 2 at Paycor Stadium is a cold slap of reality as to how fast a fun and dangerous sport can be come tragic. When Damar Hamlin woke up the day of the game, it’s unlikely he had any idea he would be fighting for his life by the end of the day.
We all hope our prayers are answered and Damar Hamlin makes a full recovery and is able to live a normal life. The Bengals showed absolute class and support in rallying around the young Bills player.
A foundation Hamlin started for children with a goal of $2,500 has more than 7 million dollars since the tragic attack.
The only thing that matters now is that Mr. Hamlin gets to live to see the fruits of the cause he started.