Monday Night Football has been credited with saving television in America. With virtually everything else moving to on-demand streaming platforms, the NFL’s Monday Night Football has remained among the most-watched live broadcast programs in the world. Monday Night Football is one of the highest-rated shows in the U.S. each week, with millions of Americans tuning in to watch the live game.
Last night, during what otherwise appeared to be a routine play on the field, Damar Hamlin, a defensive player for the Buffalo Bills, suffered what the league is calling a “contact-related” cardiac arrest. Quite simply, he was struck in the chest during a tackle, and the result of the contact was that his heart simply stopped. Within a couple of minutes, medics were performing CPR in front of the crowd of 60,000 in the stadium and more than 100 million Americans watching from home. The game was completely canceled as medics were fighting to save Hamlin's life as the audience watched in quiet horror. As of this morning, Mr. Hamlin is in critical condition and hospitalized.
Aside from being considered an excellent player, Hamlin was also a volunteer and activist for positive change in his community, helping to use his fame and platform to raise millions of dollars each year for local charities supporting youth education and health. Following his accident, his charity raised over $4 million in donations to help purchase toys for children affected by the pandemic.
I ask that this audience join me and my team in taking a moment to offer our own prayer, to call upon God together and ask that Hamlin may be fully healed, his family may feel the comfort of the love of heaven, and that whatever the outcome, he may feel the power of God’s love upon his soul.
I cannot help but be struck by what else occurred in the immediate aftermath of this event. Following the injury, as fellow players and trainers surrounded Hamlin, everyone in the stadium and watching from home had a collective, innate human response: “Dear God, please…”
For many years, prayer has been ridiculed by many in our society. The term “Hopes and Prayers” has made into memes as if it were a "cop-out" response to tragedy. Others scoff at the idea that someone would pray that rain would bring a good harvest to their family farm, that the Lord would supply enough money to pay the electric bill, or that a test on a funny-looking mole wouldn't come back as cancerous. But not last night.
The spontaneous and natural response of mankind was laid bare by all who witnessed this tragedy: to quiet their hearts, to humble their egos, to bow their heads and call upon God to have mercy on that man. No matter how loudly prayer is ridiculed, last night's event reminds us that prayer remains the visceral response of mankind when faced with tragedy.
God, bless this man and his family.