A terrifying injury during Monday Night Football opened a floodgate of prayer across the United States, providing a rare sense of national unity.
Damar Hamlin, a professional football player for the Buffalo Bills, collapsed early in Monday night’s marquee matchup against the Cincinnati Bengals after making what appeared to be a routine tackle. When he stood up, his body went limp and he fell on his back.
Medical personnel immediately tended to Hamlin and began performing CPR before using an AED to restore his heart beat. An ambulance backed onto the field within minutes underscoring the seriousness of the situation.
The reaction of the players from both sides quickly moved from concern to agony as they watched a fellow member of the NFL fraternity fight for his life. Only later in the evening did fans and others concerned learn that Hamlin suffered cardiac arrest.
In a moment when all other concerns faded, players and coaches displayed raw emotion as they dropped to their knees to pray.
The NFL eventually made the decision to postpone the game, but the call to prayer continued online and even on major TV networks throughout the night and into the next day.
By Wednesday, the official Twitter account of the Bills had “Pray for Damar” prominently displayed in its profile picture. Shortly after, most NFL teams adopted the same image in their own official Twitter profile pictures. The Bill’s also pinned a new tweet: “The thoughts and prayers of all of Bills Mafia are supporting you, Damar.” The tweet included an image of the team gathered in prayer during the game.
ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler reported that about 150 Bills fans gathered outside of Highmark Stadium in Orchard Park, New York, to hold two different prayer vigils for Hamlin.
On Tuesday, former NFL Quarterback and current ESPN analyst Dan Orlovsky boldly went against major network decorum on Tuesday, expressing that he wanted to do more than just put “thoughts and prayers” on social media. Orlovsky, on the set of ESPN’s NFL Live with the world watching, bowed his head to lead his cohosts and the audience in a prayer to God, asking for a miracle.
Current and former players also called on their social media followers to join them in prayer for Hamlin’s recovery.
Keep praying for Damar, his family, his teammates and friends. pic.twitter.com/eOt2r6oWt8
— Benjamin Watson (@BenjaminSWatson) January 3, 2023
Please pray for our brother.
— Josh Allen (@JoshAllenQB) January 3, 2023
My prayers and thoughts go out to @HamlinIsland the Hamlin Family. I’m praying that you pull through bro. Love ????????????
— Tee Higgins⁵ (@teehiggins5) January 3, 2023
Prayer is real, and it’s powerful. Constantly praying for Damar and his family
— Dawson Knox (@dawson_knox) January 3, 2023
Father, Damar is in Your hands! Please heal him from the top of his head to the bottom of his feet and everything in between.
Lord, please intervene!
Please heal Damar!
Please LORD! ????????
— Jill Kelly (@jillmkelly12) January 3, 2023
Praying hard.. please be okay man. ????????????????????????
— Patrick Mahomes II (@PatrickMahomes) January 3, 2023
Father God, I pray that Damar Hamlin is okay and here with us. I also ask that he have a speedy recovery mentally & physically God; in Jesus name… Amen????????
— SAUCE (@iamSauceGardner) January 3, 2023
Even agnostics, skeptics, and those who would not consider themselves “religious” were shaken to the core by the event and acknowledged the beauty of masses of people joined together to pray.
First Things First co-Host Nick Wright, who self-describes as “not religious,” said on Tuesday that two of the most important people in his life believe in a higher power, and in moments like this he finds himself envious of that kind of faith.
“It made me, in the moment, I’ve got to say…two of the closest people in the world to me are deeply religious people. And I’m not. And it made me a little envious in that moment, and since then, that I didn’t have that foundation of a greater purpose or a higher power or something because I feel like at times like this when there’s an inexplicable tragedy, you’re almost flailing about. Like why did it happen to this kid in this moment?” Wright said during the opening of the show.
Prayer, without the extra filters of political correctness, has come to the forefront of the national conversation. As believers throughout the United States lift up Hamlin in prayer, even doubters find themselves open to the possibility.
It appears that Hamlin is a man of prayer himself. Just a few weeks ago, Hamlin spoke on the One Bills Live Show about his relationship with childhood friend and teammate Dane Jackson. In the now sobering clip, Hamlin mentions a prayer time that happens every Wednesday among members of the Bills’ defensive backfield. The second-year player spoke of cherishing every moment such as praying together with his friend, as “you never know when the last day could be that you get to experience something like this.”
Extremely Blessed, Extremely Grateful. Chasing Greatness. Ⓜ️
— ???????????????????? ???????????????????????? (@HamlinIsland) November 11, 2022
The 24-year-old Safety was leading the team in tackles this season, stepping up after starter Micah Hyde went down with an injury. He remains in critical condition, though his oxygen levels are improving and he’s breathing some on his own, according to ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler.