Damar Hamlin’s stunning on-field collapse due to cardiac arrest on Monday night sent a shockwave throughout the NFL world. As the Bills’ safety starts to show remarkable progress and receive powerful messages from his team of doctors in recovery, prominent figures around the football world have shared some powerful thoughts about the ongoing situation while reflecting on how football is so ancillary here.
On Thursday, New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick began his media availability by discussing Hamlin and the ensuing fallout for NFL players and coaches. One of the more notable tidbits was Belichick seeing what happened with Hamlin on Monday and recounting another scary injury situation from his coaching past.
In 1997, former Detroit Lions linebacker Reggie Brown was left temporarily paralyzed after helping make a tackle against the New York Jets. At the time, Belichick was a Jets defensive assistant, and he said Hamlin made him think immediately of what happened to Brown:
BIll Belichick says he usually doesn’t watch MNF, but was watching this week to prepare for the Bills.
He says he immediately thought of Reggie Brown’s 1997 injury that left the Lions LB paralyzed. Belichick was an assistant with the Jets that day.
— Andrew Siciliano (@AndrewSiciliano) January 5, 2023
Here’s more from WEEI’s Khari Thompson on a very personal memory for Belichick as he thought about Damar Hamlin:
“It was kind of a normal play,” Belichick recalled of Brown’s injury, which happened while Belichick was an assistant of Bill Parcells’ with the New York Jets. “… Everyone got up and walked back to the huddle, and Reggie [Brown] laid on the field and didn’t move. He was conscious for a little while. I forget exactly how long — 10 minutes, something like that.
“By the time he was given CPR, revived, put on the board, put on the ambulance and driven off the field at the Silverdome, it was quite a lengthy process. Both the teams looked very much like the game Monday night. Concern, thought, prayer, kneeling. It was a very chilling game that I’ll obviously never forget.”
It doesn’t sound like Belichick ever quite got over what happened to Brown. For a man who has been around the game for decades, to compare Hamlin’s situation as a result of a routine tackle to another traumatic situation from the past speaks volumes. Belichick’s heartfelt reflection about what can happen in this sport likely won’t be the last from a significant NFL figure as Hamlin continues to recover.
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