Damar Hamlin Injury Sparks Conversations, Concerns at Greenhill


Mateo Lanzillotta and Kaden Alibhai

When Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin collapsed on the field in a Monday night game on January 2, the world of football and the Greenhill community alike were shaken. 

The incident shocked sports fans across the country. At Greenhill, athletic trainers and football coaches have also taken notice.

Following a tackle made by Hamlin on Cincinnati Bengals’ wide receiver Tee Higgins, catastrophe happened. Getting up after completing the tackle, Hamlin stood still for a few moments before collapsing on the field. 

Greenhill Athletic Trainer Aliki Pappas shared her thoughts on the incident.

“When I first saw it happen, it was very frightening…but seeing that whole team acting so quickly like ASAP was very good to see,” she said.

As someone who has worked in the athletic field for the entirety of her professional life, Pappas has learned a lot about sports injuries. She stressed that the injury, though frightening, was exceedingly rare. 

“What happened [to Hamlin] is a very rare occurrence. We learn about it in school – there’s a millisecond of time where, if you get hit in the left side of your chest, it can cause your heart to stop. And that’s what happened [to Hamlin],” Pappas said.

Defensive Coordinator for the football team and Head Coach of Track and Field Stacey Johnson said that the injury astounded him. “My initial reactions were shock and disbelief. To see a guy get up and just collapse like that was shocking.”

Though he acknowledged the risk of such a high-contact sport, Johnson also emphasized the fact that this particular type of injury is both rare and shouldn’t push people away from the sport, a fear that he voiced.

“[The injury] probably makes a few people think twice about whether it’s a sport that they want to participate in…but it’s just one of those things…I don’t know if anyone’s ever seen anything quite like it in a sport like football.” 

Since the injury on Jan. 2, Hamlin has made substantial progress and is no longer in critical condition. After a stay in two different hospitals, he was able to travel back to Buffalo and make a return to the Bills practice facility and his family.

Dr. Jamie Nadler, critical care physician for the Buffalo General Hospital and the lead for Hamlin’s care team said in a press release that they have tested Hamlin extensively.

“We are confident that Damar can be safely discharged to continue his rehabilitation at home and with the Bills,” Nadler said.

On Jan. 15, during the Bills playoff win against the Miami Dolphins, Hamlin made a statement that he would be watching and supporting his teammates from home.

Hamlin was in the Buffalo stadium on Jan. 21 as the Bills lost to the Cincinnati Bengals, but as a spectator rather than a player. As Hamlin progresses down his long road to recovery, the conversation among Greenhill athletes and coaches about safety issues in contact sports will also continue.