American football star Damar Hamlin is in critical condition after collapsing during an NFL game.
The 24-year-old Buffalo Bills player fell to the ground after colliding with an opponent during the first quarter of the game against the Cincinnati Bengals.
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He received medical attention at the scene for more than 30 minutes before being taken to a local hospital, AFP reported.
The NFL suspended play for the night about an hour after the incident.
Jordon Rooney, Hamlin’s representative, tweeted: “His vitals returned to normal and he was sedated to put a breathing tube down his throat. Tests are currently underway. We will provide updates as we have them.”
Hamlin, who plays safety, was tackling Bengals receiver Tee Higgins when Higgins’ helmet appeared to hit Hamlin in the chest. After getting to his feet first, he fell onto his back.
Medical officials gave Hamlin on-field CPR for more than 10 minutes and gave him oxygen as he left on a stretcher, ESPN reported.
The outlet also reported that members of Hamlin’s family who attended the game rode with him in an ambulance to a nearby hospital.
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Players from both teams rallied around Hamlin during treatment. Several were seen visibly distressed, many kneeling in prayer and some in tears.
The television news coverage repeatedly broke away from the scene on the field, and the Cincinnati crowd remained silent during the ordeal.
The organizers came to the decision to officially suspend the game for the night about an hour after the incident. NFL games are rarely interrupted by injuries.
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Joe Danneman, a local sports reporter, said a source informed him the Bills would fly back home to New York instead of staying in Cincinnati. This means that the game may not be updated anytime soon.
The two teams are among the top Super Bowl contenders this year, with their matchup coming in the prime Monday night slot of the penultimate week of the NFL regular season.
The league’s players association wrote in a statement: “We have been in contact with the Bills and Bengals players and the NFL. The only thing that matters at this time is Damar’s health and well-being.”
A native of McKees Rock, Pa., Hamlin was a standout at the University of Pittsburgh before being drafted by the Bills in the 2021 NFL Draft.
In the safety role, he served most of last year as a backup, but in 2022 he was part of the Bills’ starting lineup.
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Since before he was a paid athlete, he has also garnered praise for hosting annual Christmas drives in his hometown.
After Hamlin’s collapse on Monday, an online GoFundMe page for the toy drive was re-shared and raised nearly $1 million.
Good wishes also poured in from many corners. Arizona Cardinals defensive end JJ Watt tweeted, “Please be okay, please be okay,” while retired Pittsburgh Steelers safety Ryan Clark told ESPN’s SportsCenter show, “This is not about a football player, this is about a person.”
New York Governor Kathy Hochul said: “We are praying for Damar Hamlin. Our hearts go out to his family, loved ones and the entire Buffalo Bills community.”