At one o’clock today, I hit the pause button. I stood and watched the TV. I turned up the volume so I could feel the emotions. And I cried. The Buffalo Bills were running onto their field of play carrying banners with the number 3 displayed proudly. Cannons exploded, smoke rose, the crowd went crazy, and the near tragedy of last Monday night turned into a celebration. Buffalo, New England, the NFL family, and the country are united in the celebration of the life of Damar Hamlin.
Six days ago, Damar Hamlin got up from a seemingly ordinary tackle, collapsed to the turf, and died. We later found that Damar’s heart had stopped twice. It was only because of the incredibly talented trainers and EMTs that they were able to get his heart beating, put him on oxygen, and quickly get him to a nearby hospital that Damar had a chance to survive. The country held its collective breath, waiting each day for some positive news from Cincinnati. Remarkably, the word got better every day as Hamlin fought to regain his life and health. Damar’s conditioning and the prayers of millions willed him back from death.
The collapse of Number 3 brought out the best in the fans of the NFL, sports, and those who cannot tell a football from a basketball. Tweets, Facebook posts, and scoreboards in NFL stadiums all called for prayers for a young man who nearly lost his life playing a game he loves. The GoFundMe page that Damar set up to buy toys for needy children in Buffalo swelled to over $8 Million. The goal for the site was a paltry $125,000. Thanks to the outpouring of love for Damar Hamlin, there will be some happy children in Buffalo.
My Patriots are playing the Bills this week in Buffalo. It is tough to root against the Bills as many thought it impossible they could pull themselves together to play. The fact that the Bills ran back the opening kickoff for a touchdown was a fairy-tale opening to the game. It will be an uphill battle if the Pats are to pull off the upset. But does it really matter? Damar Hamlin was sitting up in his hospital bed, alive, well, and rooting for his brothers in Buffalo Blue. I almost found myself pulling for the Bills. I am not sure they need my support. But a young man recovering in Cincinnati still needs all of our prayers.
An irony of this week is that kneeling and praying are not under fire. When darkness came, and a young man was clinging to life, grown men cried, hugged, kneeled, and prayed. Even though many of these people turned their backs on him lately, God was there to answer the call. How else do you explain that Damar died twice last Monday night, and today we celebrate his recovery?