NFL fans across the country have gone from buzzing in anticipation of what might be the best game of the regular season to sitting in horrific silence after one of the worst incidents in league history.
Buffalo Bills Safety Damar Hamlin is currently in critical condition in a Cincinnati hospital after suffering a cardiac arrest during Monday night’s game against the Bengals.
Hamlin collapsed after a tackle, had to undergo CPR on the field, and was wheeled off the field in an ambulance as crying players from both teams knelt in prayer.
The incident also shed light on the only death of an NFL player on the field, which occurred in 1971.
During a game against the Chicago Bears at Tiger Stadium on October 24, 1971, Detroit Lions wide receiver Chuck Hughes returned to his team after the game with 1:02 left in the game, with the Lions trailing 28–23.
As he ran towards the crowd, Hughes collapsed near the 20-year-old Chicago line clutching his chest.
Bears Hall of Fame linebacker Dick Butkus was right where Hughes was and frantically gestured the medical staff onto the field from behind the sideline.
Hughes was taken off the field in an ambulance, but later that day he was pronounced dead at the Henry Ford Hospital at the age of 28.
Unlike the Buffalo-Cincinnati game on Monday, when the game was suspended and eventually postponed, the Chicago-Detroit game was played to the end.
After his death, it was discovered that Hughes had a family history of heart problems and that one of his arteries was 75% clogged.
The blood clot broke off and lodged in the artery, preventing the heart muscle from receiving blood.
This may have been the result of a hit taken three plays earlier, which turned out to be the last hit of his life.
Hughes’ wife Sharon, who was in the ambulance when her husband was taken to the hospital, filed a $21.5 million lawsuit in 1972 against Henry Ford Hospital doctors for misdiagnosing his heart condition during a May 1971 examination. year, about five months later. before his death.
The lawsuit was ultimately settled for an undisclosed amount of money.
On his Twitter page after the Hamlin situationformer Detroit Red Wings coach and medical examiner John Wharton said that “if the human heart receives a direct impact injury at a certain point in the cardiac cycle, it can stop.”
Wharton then cited the example in 1998 during an NHL playoff game when former St. Louis defenseman Chris Pronger was hit in the chest by a puck and then slowly slumped to the ice as he got to his feet.
Wharton did not claim that Hamlin’s injury was exactly the same as Pronger’s, just that it “looked eerily similar”.
As the NFL community and fans around the world wait for more information on Hamlin’s status, this has come as a chilling reminder that this isn’t the only time a player has had a sudden heart problem during a game.