Last Monday, I flipped on my TV to see what the score was on the Monday Night Football game between the Bills and Bengals.

I was planning on locking into the game later because those are really good teams, but in that moment of the evening I was not able to settle into my recliner and watch.

As I asked my TV to go to ESPN, I saw players gathered in a huddle around a player in the middle of the field who clearly was injured.

I changed the channel.

That may shock you. “That’s kind of heartless on your part, isn’t it Roger?”

It’s a fair question, and the answer is “yes, it was.”

We see players injured in football games all the time. A couple of times a week, the injury is severe enough to require the player to being loaded onto a cart and taken to a medical facility inside the stadium for x-rays, concussion protocols or some other form of treatment and diagnosis that can’t be accomplished in the blue tent behind the team’s bench.

So, forgive me when I say I changed the channel.

I didn’t really know what I had stumbled onto.

I saw the score was 7-3, which is what I wanted to see in the first place, and I moved on.

About 20 minutes later, I went back to the game with the intention of fully engaging in it.

But the screen read “Game Suspended.”

What did that mean?

NFL games just don’t get suspended in the first quarter.

Was there a storm with lightning?


Was there some sort of safety concern at the stadium?


What did I miss?

Turns out what I missed was the training staff of the Bills performing life-saving measures on one of their players.

To be specific, CPR was in progress.

I hope you have never seen that before, because if you have seen it before in your life, I am betting you can tell me about it in vivid detail. You know where you were, why you were there, who was with you—all of it.

No matter what your life experience is, when you see that happening you cannot erase that from your memory bank.

I have seen it several times, and I can tell you about each of them—including last summer.

But this was different. This was on the field inside an NFL stadium. Thousands of Bengals fans in orange and black garb, leaning on each other, arms around each other. Some are praying. Most are in tears or fighting them back.

For over 20 minutes, play is stopped while the work to revive Damar Hamlin continued.

It was successful, and he was taken from the field in an ambulance bound for a hospital.

Word was given to the ESPN broadcasters that the game would resume after a five-minute delay to allow the players time to stretch and get ready to play again.

But that was not going to happen.

The players, like you and me, could not erase the images in their minds of their teammate and opponent lying there with his heart not beating. Their coaches could see it in their faces, and they talked with each other.

Then they went to the game officials, who were on the phone with the league office in New York City looking for direction.

The problem is, there is no manual for this.

There is no warehouse of experience to draw.

They stopped the game and sent everyone home.

The league caught grief for being so callous as to think the game should go on. But that wasn’t fair.

The league couldn’t make an accurate assessment of the situation because they couldn’t know the sentiment of the players. Once they had that information, they did the right thing and announced that the game would not continue that night.

In the meantime, I hope our local high schools reviewed their procedures for such a situation should it happen during a local sporting event.

Is there an AED and someone proficient in using it your kid’s events? Are their EMTs or other qualified medical personnel in attendance?

It’s ok to ask those questions.

The Bills training staff had asked them, and they had practiced the exact thing that happened that night in Cincinnati.

You just never know.