The back of Damar Hamlin’s helmet sports the slogan “Choose Love.” It’s the newest of seven messages the NFL permits players to display on their helmets, the last vestiges of the league’s nod toward social progress begun in 2020. Like the other slogans, it’s a sentiment so vague as to be meaningless 토토 right up until the moment it becomes clear how critical, and correct, “Choose Love” is.
Hamlin lies in a Cincinnati hospital bed in critical condition after a tackle in which he suffered cardiac arrest. His health remains the priority here, far more important than what the league decides to do about the Bills-Bengals game. As he recovers, hopefully to live a full, long and productive life, everyone else involved in this tragedy, from the center to the margins, has to figure out how to move on. How do players, fans and the league pick up the pieces after one of the most shocking, disturbing moments in NFL history?
The players always know. Their faces, their actions, their body language always tell the true story. When a player goes down with a twisted ankle or a pulled hamstring, his teammates might not even break stride on their way to the huddle or the sideline. This is the NFL, where painful tweaks are as much a part of work life as social media breaks are for the rest of us.
When a player suffers an injury that’s more serious — the kind that could end a season — players will kneel in silent solidarity, but when the cart leaves the field, the game goes on. That exact scenario happened earlier this year on the same Cincinnati field where Hamlin fell, when Tua Tagovailoa suffered a concussion and the Week 3 game went on minutes later with hardly a hitch. 토토
But Monday night felt different right from the start because of the devastated looks on the Bills’ faces. Josh Allen held his hands to his mouth as if in horror. Tears streamed down Stefon Diggs’ cheeks. Players pulled at their jerseys, hugged one another, turned away from the scene as Hamlin received CPR right there on the turf. First responders worked on Hamlin for 10 minutes, minutes that must be among the most agonizing those players have ever endured in their lives.
“At the age of 24, I didn’t even know I could die,” ESPN commentator and former Pittsburgh Steeler Ryan Clark said in a remarkable commentary Monday night. He’s not alone; so many players and fans alike share that belief in their own immortality. When the truth presents itself like it did Monday night, in stark and unavoidable terms, it shakes people to their souls.
Tragedy reveals character, and Monday night gave NFL fans the opportunity to show empathy, to display compassion, to choose love. So many took advantage, donating — at this writing — more than $3.6 million to Hamlin’s tiny GoFundMe. On social media, many others took the opportunity to share photos, videos and stories of Hamlin; the picture that emerged was that of an admirable man with dreams of playing football and goals of helping those not as fortunate as him.
There were the ghouls and the opportunists, of course, leeching onto Hamlin’s tragedy to advance their own petty agendas and conspiracy theories, or complaining that postponing the game would disrupt the end of the NFL season — as if that matters at all. But in a moment where real life tore its way into the cloistered bubble of sports and social media, the ignorant and the attention-seekers were irrelevant and ignored; empathy and connection reigned.