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Damar Hamlin latest news: Bills safety able to talk to family, team after breathing tube removed

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“A lot of times what’s missed in all of this is that football is entertainment. And at the end of the day, if you want to boil it down, we’re entertainers.”

— Patriots special-teamer Matthew Slater

Slater, who spoke these words during a media availability Thursday afternoon at Gillette Stadium, isn’t the first professional athlete to equate sports with entertainment, that this is a job, a job with all kinds of built-in dangers. Naturally, he was referring to Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin, who remains in critical condition at University of Cincinnati Medical Center after going into cardiac arrest during Monday’s game against the Bengals.

But while Slater’s point was that athletes are human beings, and that Hamlin’s fight for life serves as a reminder “football is secondary,” this is yet another case in which professional athletes are showing a deft touch in taking us to higher ground in times of trouble.

Just to be clear, I’m talking about the people on the field, not the NFL’s boardroom movers and shakers. No offense to the suits, but their participation in his story did not play out on national television. But the Bills and Bengals players and coaches bared their souls Monday night for all the world to see, and what we saw was nothing short of remarkable.

What we saw was the game-day facade peeled away from these big, tough football players, revealing faces filled with angst and concern. I wonder how many people tuned into the game after being made aware of Hamlin’s plight on social media; once we tuned in, we could not tune out. For me, it was the stunned expression of Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow, it was the manner in which Bills quarterback Josh Allen held his hands over his face, it was that meeting on the field between the two coaches, Sean McDermott of the Bills and Zac Taylor of the Bengals, the two men speaking in whispers.

Because the game was on national television, Hamlin’s plight became a national story. Because of social media, players throughout football shared their emotions. And since the Patriots are scheduled to close out the regular season against the Bills Sunday afternoon in Buffalo, a decision was made to delay the team’s media availability for a day in order that everybody might collect themselves.

Read more here.

(Photo: USA Today)




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