On Monday night, millions of people watched a terrifying scene unfold in real time. Damar Hamlin, a 24-year-old safety for the Buffalo Bills, collapsed and went into cardiac arrest after making what appeared to be a routine tackle in a nationally televised NFL game against the Cincinnati Bengals.
Hamlin’s medical emergency, the details of which have not been fully released, may have been a rare and unfortunate event. But in a sport where high-speed collisions are a feature, not a bug, there is a risk of serious injury every time the ball breaks. And yet the games go on. Today’s bulletin will explain why the danger inherent in a sport that is intertwined with American culture persists.
In 15 years of covering the NFL, I’ve stayed on the sidelines for several games. Looking closely, I’ve never gotten over how strong the blows are. As a simple matter of physics, the combination of the size and speed of professional soccer players means that the force of their collisions can be similar to that of a world-class sprinter crashing into a brick wall.
The NFL has touted his efforts to make the game more secure, particularly over the last decade. He has made rule changes that discourage dangerous on-field tactics such as head-passing, instituted a protocol for diagnosing and treating concussions and stationed about 30 medical professionals at games to respond to injuries or emergencies. However, the scope of these measures shows how the dangers of the sport can only be mitigated, not eliminated.
Ed Hochuli, a longtime NFL referee who has worked hundreds of games, spoke frankly after he retired in 2018 about what he had witnessed on the field. In each game, he said, there were “half a dozen times” when he worried: “Oh my God, how is that guy going to get up off the ground? He has to be dead.
a money maker
The NFL often seems mired in turmoil but is immune to it. In recent years, he has faced accusations of racial profiling by black coaches, allegations of workplace misconduct at an iconic franchise, and posthumous diagnoses in more than 300 former players of chronic traumatic encephalopathy, which is associated with repeated blows to the head. head. However, the league remains on track to meet Commissioner Roger Goodell’s goal of earning $25 billion in annual revenue by 2027.
Even this week, as the NFL faces one of its worst crises in decades, it’s also gearing up for the next slate of games this weekend, which will take place as scheduled. Players and coaches have jobs to do. The business of the NFL depends on it.
The mere fact of where Hamlin collapsed is a reminder of how quickly we moved on from the shocking violence in America’s most popular sports league. On the same field just three months ago, Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa was stretchered off after his head was struck on the turf. He missed the next two games with a concussion. Days before he had suffered another blow to the head. Then, in a Christmas Day game against the Green Bay Packers, he suffered another brain injury.
About five years ago, on the same field, Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Ryan Shazier suffered a spinal injury while making a tackle that not only ended his career, but forced him to learn to walk again. Unlike Monday night’s game, that one continued after a delay.
The popularity of soccer
What happens in the NFL is amplified more than almost any other American cultural institution. Hamlin’s medical emergency made front-page news. A GoFundMe page he originally created for a holiday toy drive in his hometown near Pittsburgh has received more than 200,000 donations since Monday, raising nearly $7 million. President Biden, who said yesterday that he spoke to Hamlin’s parents, was asked if he thought the NFL had become too dangerous. He said no.
Despite the live horror of Hamlin’s collapse, the NFL’s staying power doesn’t seem to be in question. The league’s media partners collectively pay about $12 billion per season to show the games because they draw such large audiences.
We tuned in because we know we can see rare athletic feats, a redemption arc, or an odds-defying comeback. However, just as plausible is that a player will be seriously injured. From time to time, like Monday night, we are reminded of that uncomfortable duality. And then the NFL machine moves on, counting on the viewers to follow.
THE LATEST NEWS
Benedict XVI, the first pope to resign in almost six centuries, was laid to rest this morning after a funeral at the Vatican presided over by Pope Francis.
The man accused of killing four University of Idaho college students got a new license plate for his car five days after the slayings, records show.
European regulators fined Meta more than $400 million for forcing Facebook and Instagram users to accept personalized ads.
Amazon is cutting 18,000 corporate and tech jobs, and Salesforce is laying off 10 percent of its workforce.
More rain, wind and snow are expected in California today, knocking out power and threatening flash flooding.
Prince Harry says in his memoirs that his brother, Prince William, he threw it to the ground during a confrontation in 2019, The Guardian reports.
Movies about writers often bore us. A new documentary showcases the less celebrated art of publishing, pamela paul writes
The new US testing requirement for travelers from China does little more than stoke anti-Asian hate, frankie huang argues
Justice and equality matter. But humanity is absent from the debate on trans athletes, iszac henig argues
Goodbye to the ‘Pisoton’
Since arriving in the East Village in 1994, “Stomp,” the wordless percussion extravaganza of twirling, tapping, sweeping, and banging, has been a mainstay of New York culture. After almost three decades, production is closing for good.
“Stomp” was a natural fit for the East Village of the 1990s, where it hung out with the Blue Man Group and rock clubs like CBGB and the Brownies. But even as he became a phenomenon, with an appearance at the Olympics, a parody of “The Simpsons” and performances in 45 countries, he never got over his neighborhood.
“I’m a little sad,” said Steve McNicholas, the show’s co-creator. “We were part of the landscape of the Village, and it’s a shame to say goodbye to that.”
For more: Times readers and critics shared their memories of the show.