Football Night in Chicago

Ex-NFL coach shares thoughts on Hamlin incident


On Monday night, Bills safety Damar Hamlin nearly lost his life on the field while undergoing cardiac arrest after making a tackle on Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Tee Higgins. 

While he was down on the field, players, coaches and fans watched as medical staff attempted to resuscitate Hamlin in an attempt to keep him alive. 

Former NFL player and head coach, Tony Dungy, joined Football Night in Chicago on Tuesday night to reflect on the incident and provide similar instances that had occurred during his career.

"In 1997, we were playing the Detroit Lions in a playoff game," Dungy started. "The week before, they had had a linebacker, Reggie Brown, get paralyzed on the field. And now, we're playing them and the next week, Scott Mitchell gets hit and it's the same thing. He's down on the ground. They've got the ambulance out there. And you're just sitting there saying 'What's gonna happen? Please get up.'"

Dungy shared a separate story about Korey Stringer, who died during summer training camp in 2001. Dungy's friend, Dennis Green, was the head coach at the time. 

Remembering these tragedies from his career, Dungy couldn't help but empathize with the ineffable feelings coaches and players experienced while Hamlin was undergoing medical assistance on the field.

"All you really want at that point is for the medical people to be out there and tell you what's happening next," Dungy said. "Unfortunately, most of us, if you've been in coaching long enough, you've been in a situation like that."

In terms of Monday's medical situation, Dungy confirmed he talked with Bills defensive coordinator, Leslie Frazier, who commended the medical staff for their work with Hamlin and keeping the coaches and players "abreast of the situation."

Hamlin was resuscitated successfully once on the field and the medical staff was able to restore his heartbeat. He was transferred to the University of Cincinnati Medical Center, where he has remained in intensive care as of this writing. 

According to a statement from the Bills, Hamlin has reported positive signs of improvement from Tuesday and Wednesday but remains in intensive care. 

The situation remains unique to anything unlike other coaches and football historians have ever seen, as Hamlin's life remains in peril from Monday's game. 

"We played and we coached and you go out there and you know the risk," Dungy said. "You always think you could get hurt, or one of your players could get hurt. You expect that. Even some serious injuries.

"But, you never think about, man, somebody could lose their life today."

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