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



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The NFL has skilled nothing fairly like the previous couple of days.

After Damar Hamlin suffered a cardiac arrest and was rushed to the hospital, Cincinnati Bengals followers embraced their Buffalo Payments counterparts within the Paycor Stadium, women and men broke into tears, whereas others prayed.

Hour-by-hour, day-by-day, the emotion and concern for Hamlin’s well being swelled like an ocean – the gamers and coaches of 32 groups, in addition to NFL followers, anxiously ready for any updates on the Payments security’s wellbeing.

20230105-sports-Damar Hamlin

After watching the scary occasion unfold, Colts rookie security Rodney Thomas II drove from Indianapolis to Cincinnati to see his good friend Hamlin. In the meantime, NFL followers held vigils outdoors the College of Cincinnati Medical Heart the place Hamlin was sedated and intubated within the ICU.

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

“I do know he may hear me,” mentioned Thomas of Hamlin, whom he had met at Central Catholic Excessive Faculty in Pittsburgh, the place the 2 have been teammates and have become shut pals.

“Even when he couldn’t hear me, it didn’t matter. I mentioned what I needed to say.”

Michael Addis, professor within the division of psychology at Clark College in Worcester, Massachusetts, advised CNN Sports activities that what we’ve witnessed over the previous couple of days reveals the game’s evolution, a improvement he attributes to altering views of masculinity the place males are allowed to “expertise emotional vulnerability.”

“I believe it’s an indication that we’re higher ready than we have been 1 / 4 of a century in the past to acknowledge emotional and bodily well being issues in males as a result of, after all, all that kind of conventional legal guidelines of masculinity train us to cover that,” mentioned Addis, who’s an knowledgeable in males’s despair.

Payments quarterback Josh Allen advised reporters on Thursday that the Buffalo gamers had been offering loads of emotional assist to one another.

“We’ve had some very open and sincere and deep talks,” mentioned Allen. “Some unbelievable, this sounds bizarre, however some embraces as males, simply hugging any individual and truly simply leaning into them. There’s been quite a lot of that going round and also you want each little bit of it, you actually do.

“I believe the truth that we simply maintain listening to excellent news about Damar, it simply retains pushing us ahead.” added Allen, referring to Hamlin’s “substantial enchancment” within the hospital.

Hamlin is ready to talk by shaking his head, nodding or writing temporary notes, mentioned College of Cincinnati Well being Dr. Timothy Pritts, a part of the participant’s medical crew.

On Friday, the Payments introduced Hamlin’s respiratory tube had been eliminated in a single day and that he FaceTimed into their crew assembly to speak to gamers and coaches. He had a easy message: “Love you boys.”

Bills safety Hamlin prior to the start  of a preseason game on Saturday, August 28, 2021.

The NFL introduced on Thursday that the sport between the Payments and the Bengals has been canceled, although the ultimate week of normal season motion begins on Saturday, with the playoff panorama to then develop into clearer.

Nevertheless, returning to motion so shortly might be an enormous ask for gamers after such a “traumatic occasion,” based on Addis.

“For some individuals, getting again to enterprise is what it’s all about. And it’s a wholesome distraction from what they’re experiencing,” mentioned Addis. “For different individuals, there’s no method that they’re going to get again to enterprise so early.”

Cincinnati quarterback Joe Burrow mentioned in the course of the week {that a} return to motion on Sunday will probably be felt otherwise by his teammates.

“I’m positive in the event you polled the locker room there’d be blended votes on that,” Burrow advised reporters on Wednesday.

“Personally, I believe enjoying goes to be robust, however there’s folks that wish to play, too, and there’s folks that don’t. Personally, I most likely wish to play,” added Burrow.

“I believe getting again to as regular as you may as quick as you may is personally how I type of take care of these sorts of issues. However like I mentioned, everybody has a special method of coping with it.”

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

Payments quarterback Allen mentioned that whereas “persons are going to be modified ceaselessly” from what came about on Monday, he thinks “placing that helmet again on was a very good factor for our crew and simply to undergo that course of.”

Nevertheless, returning to motion could also be more durable for some gamers following Hamlin’s mid-game cardiac arrest, based on Addis, not least that they may have skilled their first “existential awakening to their very own mortality.”

“These gamers are used to seeing damaged bone. They’re used to concussion protocols,” Addis mentioned. “This was an unusual, run-of-the-mill play that got here near leading to a participant’s demise.

“So I believe for all the gamers concerned, in addition to doubtlessly for followers, it is a time the place the chance of set off of trauma responses could be very actual.

“For a few of these gamers, relying upon experiences in their very own lives, this may convey again a few of these emotions.”

Over the previous couple of years, the sporting world has develop into extra aware about athletes’ psychological well being, however because the NFL season nears its conclusion, Addis questions if gamers may have the time and the house to course of their feelings.

“Whether or not that matches with the financial calls for of the NFL and the fan calls for, it simply stays to be seen,” mentioned Addis.

“I’m actually curious to see how this all performs out, as a result of I don’t suppose the establishment of the game is able to be as versatile about this because the gamers may want.”

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell mentioned in a memo to groups Tuesday that the heads of participant engagement and crew clinicians for all golf equipment have acquired details about psychological well being and assist sources for gamers and workers.

Allen reacts to Hamlin's collapse during the first quarter of the game against the Bengals.

Inside 10 seconds of collapsing, Hamlin was receiving life-saving medical consideration.

Payments head coach Sean McDermott mentioned on Thursday that assistant athletic coach Denny Kellington was the one who carried out on-field CPR and saved Hamlin’s life.

This season the NFL has been broadly criticized for the best way it has dealt with participant concussions, however the speedy response of medical personnel to Hamlin’s collapse has been broadly praised.

That readiness to behave shortly within the face of an emergency is the results of lengthy hours of planning and preparation, based on Dr. Jonathan A. Drezner, who’s director of the College of Washington’s drugs middle for sports activities cardiology and crew doctor for the Seattle Seahawks.

The medical workers of NFL groups have a “a written emergency motion plan,” together with sudden cardiac arrest, head and neck trauma and stomach or chest trauma, based on Drezner, who defined these plans are practised twice earlier than the season begins – as soon as at their apply facility and as soon as on the stadium which hosts video games.

Then in a “pre-game medical timeout,” each units of medical workers, together with extra physicians, airway administration physicians and neurotrauma consultants meet with the officers an hour earlier than kickoff of NFL matches “to ensure everybody’s on the identical web page to do what must occur in case there may be emergency,” mentioned Drezner.

“So it’s kind of planning for the ‘what ifs.’ And so I believe inside the NFL, we even have fairly a sturdy emphasis on being ready,” added the Seahawks crew doctor.

“I believe that was evidenced within the response that Damar Hamlin acquired from the medical crew, each of the Buffalo Payments and the ancillary assist that was accessible in Cincinnati. And hopefully if there’s a medical emergency at any NFL sport {that a} response like that may be replicated,” mentioned Drezner.

Bills players huddle and pray after Hamlin collapsed on the field.

Earlier than the NFL season begins, gamers are subjected to annual electrocardiograms in an try to establish preexisting coronary heart circumstances, based on Drezner.

Groups additionally analysis gamers’ household historical past of coronary heart illness or sudden cardiac arrest and if picked up, will then examine additional.

Drezner says he doesn’t suppose that the “threat elements for cardiac arrest within the NFL are totally different than every other sport.”

“Most sudden cardiac arrest in younger aggressive athletes is from a preexisting coronary heart situation. And once more, these are the kinds of coronary heart situation that you just search for via screening, however no screening is ideal.”

Within the aftermath of Hamlin’s collapse, the entire league confirmed its assist for the protection and the Payments, altering their social media profile photos to say “Pray for Damar” and skylines throughout the nation turned blue for Hamlin.

Payments normal supervisor Brandon Beane voiced his appreciation for the assist from throughout the NFL neighborhood over the previous week, calling it a “household.”

“This week each crew modified their emblem on their social media web page to hope for Damar, I don’t suppose I’ve ever seen that,” Beane advised reporters.

“And, yeah we go to battle, however ultimately life is the primary battle, and to see that unity from gamers, coaches, GMs, homeowners, followers is exceptional. However I believe it’s an excellent gentle, it sheds an amazing gentle on the NFL. The NFL is really a household.”