Bills Football Player Seriously Injured



Damar Hamlin tackling Tee Higgins before falling from cardiac arrest.

On Monday, January 2nd, 2023, during a football game between the Buffalo Bills and the Cincinnati Bengals, the Bills’ 24-year-old safety, Damar Hamlin, suffered a cardiac arrest and collapsed on the field. Before the incident, he tackled the Bengals receiver, Tee Higgins, and took him to the ground. Hamlin then stood up and took a few steps but suddenly collapsed and went into cardiac arrest. He was administered CPR on the field, and his heartbeat returned. Afterward, he was immediately taken to the hospital in critical condition. On Wednesday, January 4th, the Bills updated the public on Hamlin’s condition, saying he was still in critical condition but was showing signs of improvement. Hamlin was discharged on January 11th and has since partnered with the American Heart Association to increase CPR awareness and education.

The NFL is investigating the cause of this injury. The NFL’s chief medical officer Dr. Allen Sills addressed that many people believe the cardiac arrest could have resulted from commotio cordis. Commotio cordis occurs when severe trauma to the chest disrupts the heart’s electrical charge, causing dangerous fibrillations or irregular and often very rapid heart rhythms that can lead to blood clots in the heart. It is uncommon because you have to have the right type of blow hitting the right spot at the right time in the cardiac cycle. Commotio cordis is the diagnosis of exclusion, meaning it might be the diagnosis if doctors don’t find any other cause, but doctors are looking for other abnormalities with Hamlin’s heart. Sills explained that at the beginning of every season, players receive a physical, and doctors have a detailed medical history. Sills also says the NFL is looking at the role of protective equipment like shoulder pads in the incident. The investigation has not been completed, but it’s possible the medical team won’t be able to determine what caused the injury. 

Luckily, the NFL medical team was able to have a quick response to Hamlin’s incident. A vital factor in this fast response time is the 60-minute meeting between medical teams and NFL officials. This meeting takes place one hour before the kickoff, and they review the medical emergency action plan. They discuss locations of emergency equipment, who will lead if a cardiac arrest occurs, and how the chain of command will go. Their pre-game meeting allows them to work quickly and efficiently when an emergency happens on the field. 

All this chaos has caused this game to become the most-watched “Monday Night Football” telecast in ESPN history. The broadcast had an average of 23,788,000 viewers across ABC, ESPN, and ESPN2 from 8:30 pm to 10:09 pm. This number surpassed the previous record of 21.8 million viewers that was set in 2009 for a Packers-Vikings game. While the Bills-Bengals game was in play, ESPN averaged 21.1 million viewers. That number then grew to 23.9 million viewers between 9 pm and 10:15 pm as the news coverage became more focused on Hamlin’s collapse. It is clear that this event is being followed by many members of the football and sports communities.