Current and former players, doctors react to ‘shocking’ NFL injury

WECT's Zach Solon spoke with a cardiologist and with current and former NFL players from our area about their reactions to Hamlin's frightening injury.
Published: Jan. 3, 2023 at 6:26 PM EST
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - Buffalo Bills Safety Damar Hamlin remains in the hospital Tuesday in critical condition. Hamlin, 24, collapsed on the field during a game against the Cincinnati Bengals on Monday night.

Hamlin went into cardiac arrest and his pulse was restored after paramedics performed CPR on the field. Ashley High School alum and Pittsburgh Steelers Linebacker Alex Highsmith says the incident is unlike anything he’s seen before.

“That’s the first time we’ve seen anything like that, ambulance coming on the field and everything,” Highsmith said. “I’ve kind of been shook since last night, you never want to see that happen to someone.”

While it is not clear what caused Hamlin’s injury, Dr. Bill Hammill with Novant Health Pediatric Cardiology wonders if the tackle Hamlin made is what caused his heart to fall out of rhythm.

“If the heart is sort of stimulated at the wrong moment in time, there’s a very vulnerable period when the heart is kind of recovering electrically. And if you stimulate in that wrong period of time, that one in a million thing, you can suddenly go into an abnormal rhythm.”

Former NFL player and New Hanover High School alum Jay Ross says the injury is a reminder of the risks players take every time they take the field.

“Whether it be practice or game time, every time they step across those white lines it could be their last. So, I mean, we saw last night that [Hamlin] went to make a routine tackle and it ended up being his last. So, hopefully, that’s not the end of his career,” said Ross.

Hoggard High School alum Connor Barth played 10 seasons as a kicker in the NFL. He hopes Hamlin’s injury and recovery will bring players and fans together.

“You know, when this kind of stuff happens, you’ve got to just embrace each other, lean on each other, and this one’s going to be tough because it’s kind of unprecedented,” said Barth.

Highsmith says safety and support is more important than any touchdown or trophy.

“Seeing the Bills and the Bengals just coming together in unity just shows that there’s so much more than just the game of football,” Highsmith said.

Monday’s Bills-Bengals game was suspended after Hamlin collapsed in the first quarter. The NFL says the game will not resume this week but has not announced when, or if, play will resume.