The incident surrounding Damar Hamlin raised safety concerns for football fans. The Buffalo Bills and the NFL did show what seemed to be overwhelming support for the young player. But what does it mean for future incidents such as this?
Rewatching the footage, it’s kind of hard to see what happened at first. When medics rush to the scene, it quickly changes to a commercial to almost try and evade the situation from viewers. About nine minutes into the game and what appeared to be a routine tackle, Bills safety Damar Hamlin nearly died of a heart attack. The ambulance quickly rushes him to the hospital.
Hamlin’s injury is a rare incident that happens when a player suffers nearly fatal internal damage. It is rare to see a player almost die on national television. His incident and other ones like it in the world of professional football remind us how dangerous football can be. For a young and healthy athlete like Hamlin, this accident was so unlikely to occur, yet it did.
According to Dr. Arron Baggish, a Harvard cardiologist who works with professional football players, it is likely that a blow to the chest sent Hamlins heart into arrhythmia which is when your heart beats at an unusual rhythm. For this to have happened, he would have had to be hit in the right place in the heart at the right moment, thus creating “a perfect storm.”
Pads and helmets have been improving with the use of modern technology. Sports brands like Riddell have been innovating helmets that assess the impacts that a football player encounters through the use of wireless technology.
There have also been safer tackling practices that have been implemented at various NFL practices. According to the NFL, players are using mobile-controlled tackling dummies that can match the speed of their opponent. This way, the player can properly execute a tackle or a block without possibly fatally injuring another player.
With all these measures put in place, you’d think the sport would be safer to play right? For Hamlin, it was his heart that needed to be protected, and unfortunately, it wasn’t protected enough. However, there’s no way we can put cushioning on the inside of the chest to further prevent the blow.
It needs to be further emphasized that what happened to Hamlin was purely an accident. As of now, Hamlins medical history has not been made public. We know from the NFL that he has been going through cardiac and neurological testing. He also has no known preconditions that would have caused this to occur.
No one from the Bengals or the NFL had it out for Hamlin. There is not enough evidence that proves anyone wanted this to happen. It was on account of unfortunate timing for him to be hit in such a way.
It is nothing short of a miracle that Hamlin was able to bounce back from his injury. Incidents such as this one further raise the safety concerns that a lot of fans and family members of these athletes have. Could this happen again to someone else? Luckily, Hamlin is home safe with his family and not much has been said about his return to the Bills.
While it is fair to respect Hamlin’s privacy in regard to releasing certain information, we need more answers from the NFL. How does a player that has no previous medical irregularities of any kind nearly die on the field? While this was an unfortunate accident, is there a way it can happen again? Are the precautions put in place enough to help protect the athletes from harm? The NFL needs to chew on this one for a while and consider different approaches to football.
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