Occasionally I will post a sports story on Holland’s Heroes. I generally do this because of a specific interest I have in the event or a team playing. The one common denominator in any of my sports related posts is the fact that the sports story is a fun distraction or diversion from the seriousness of reality. Sadly, due to the tragic events that unfolded last night surrounding Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin, today is the exception that proves the rule.
After making a tackle in last nights NFL Matchup between the Cincinnati Bengals and Buffalo Bills, 24 year old Hamlin went into cardiac arrest. They were able to restore a heartbeat on the field, but as he is still in critical condition, no one knows as of the time I am writing this piece to what extent he will recover, if at all. I always say that I love sports because while I put so much emotion into cheering on the players and teams that I love, when my team loses it takes very little time to move on, and sometimes even laugh about it. As important as it feels the moment your team wins or loses, in the scheme of life there are so many things that matter more. No matter how much good sports can be part of and how much joy it can bring, sports is still ultimately just the playing of games. So when Damar Hamlin collapsed on the football field after going into cardiac arrest and still for all intents and purposes is fighting for his life, what had the potential of being the best game of the year, turned into a terrifying reality for a young man, his family, teammates, closest friends and that very special fanbase known as Bills Mafia.
For fans like me, a big fan of the NFL yet someone who didn’t even know his name till last night, it became a story that left the fantasy world of sports and moved to a harsh and frightening reality. This was no longer a distraction or a diversion. This is now a tragic story, one we can only hope and pray gets better.
With the world the mess that it is, it seems to be a lot easier to find a negative or sad story than it is to find a positive and uplifting one. Even if I were to focus on the positive contributions made by Israel, many people, myself included, tend to be more interested in the events of the region that focus on the fight and exposure of the enemy than the inspirational stories. It’s not a criticism, it’s human nature. However, I felt that this story, even though it has nothing to do with Israel, the Jewish people, or the fight against terrorism, is such a wonderful story, that it would be uplifting and positive. And it is a story of humanity and decency from the most unexpected of sources. The National Football League.
It begins with the NFL’s New England Patriots making a grand display of love and kindness worthy of the greatest praise. Last night the Patriots’ opponent was the Cincinnati Bengals. In a display of support that showed the world an understanding of what is truly important in life, the Patriots’ Cheerleaders each wore the jersey of Bengals player Devon Still. Still’s daughter Leah is suffering from pediatric cancer, and these cheerleaders, cheerleaders of the opposing team, wore his jersey and number to support him and his family during this incredibly difficult time. What’s even more remarkable is that in addition to this beautiful display of class from the Patriots organization, Stills’ team the Bengals, recently added him to the practice squad in order to make it possible for him to get health insurance and take care of his little girl.
In a world desperately looking for acts of kindness and reasons to be positive, we saw just that, from none other than the National Football League. It’s possible that the biggest cynic might chalk this up to good public relations, but these acts did so much to help this family that I hope we only see the positive. In the world we live in today, this goodness is a healthy break from all the bad and should be seen that way.