During Monday night’s Bills-Bengals game, Buffalo safety Damar Hamlin collapsed on the field after what appeared to be a routine play. He suffered cardiac arrest and needed CPR before being transported to the hospital where he remains in critical condition.
It was a terrifying scene in Cincinnati, one that has left everyone in the football community – and beyond it, too – shaken up even two days removed from the situation. Sean McVay opened his press conference on Wednesday by sending his thoughts and prayers to Hamlin and his family, wishing for a full recovery for the second-year safety.
He reflected on the moment he saw Hamlin go down and the frightening events that unfolded afterwards, saying he felt a pit in his stomach not knowing exactly what was happening.
“I was actually on the phone with somebody and I had it on a little bit of a delay and I could hear the person I was talking to, their wife in the background, you could hear the reaction was just pure shock,” McVay recalled. “Then I ended up catching up and just the pit in your stomach and the uncertainty. You couldn’t exactly see what had gone on, but it was really strange. Routine play, pops up but goes back down. Then the reactions from the guys, you knew this is different than anything you’ve seen.”
McVay spoke to the Rams earlier on Wednesday and the team provided any resources players or coaches might need, while also answering questions about the situation and what the protocol is if that were to happen in one of their games. While no one has told McVay they don’t plan to play in Sunday’s game, he would fully support anyone who decides they aren’t ready to take the field again.
Having been a head coach for six years now and an assistant for many more, McVay knows players put themselves on the line each and every Sunday.
“When you’re watching that the other night and the emotions that you feel, sometimes you get so caught up in the competition in this game and you don’t realize the sacrifice and the things these players do to put themselves out there for a job, but also for the entertainment and it’s gut-wrenching, it’s chilling, it’s emotions that you can’t even begin to describe. You just pray for a full recovery,” he said.
In addition to being empathetic and sending his prayers to Hamlin and his family, McVay is taking this as an opportunity to listen and learn from what occurred in Cincinnati on Monday night.
“You’re not gonna pretend to know how to navigate situations that you’ve never been through,” he said. “This is where you listen, you try to learn, you try to be empathetic to the players’ perspective. Some of our guys obviously know Damar and it’s a close-knit community in this NFL.”