I have been a football fan almost all my life. I have watched hundreds, maybe thousands, of college and NFL games and will be watching football this weekend.
My decision to do so is less a decision than an opinion; it's sunday It is me. So I watch football. Not only is it my favorite sport, but I have written about it as a reporter and commentator. I ended up writing for the New York Times, in part because of the training I got writing about Monday Night Football games and kicking penalties. In many ways, football has given me the career that I have now, the opportunities that I have now, the platform that I have now.
I didn't watch last Monday's Buffalo Bills vs. Cincinnati Bengals game because the stress of the College Football Playoff (and Michigan's loss to Texas Christian University) forced me to take a short vacation from the football world. But then my friend got a text saying that something happened in that game, the scariest thing he's ever seen in football.
I saw Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin fall to the ground after suffering a routine concussion and heart attack, his teammates screaming in grief and fear, and Bills receiver Stefon Diggs receiving a terrifying nine minutes of CPR on Hamlin, crying. (Diggs reportedly took an Uber to the hospital to be with a teammate.) I watch a lot of football, which means I see horrible injuries, but I thought I might fall to see someone dies Monday night. Field – This will be the first time a professional football game has been played since 1971.
I can imagine the big pendulum swinging between big donations and the high cost of playing football at the highest level. Playing in the NFL is a privilege. Of the thousands of college football players, only 1.6% ever play professionally. But playing in the NFL even once can be dangerous. The average career lasts only three years.
NFL players are some of the most famous and highest paid professional athletes in the country. Even if you've never seen an NFL game, you've probably seen Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes in a State Farm commercial or know Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers. But with many players suffering financially or even going bankrupt after retirement, their names are largely forgotten, accounting for the revenue of the world's most lucrative sports league.
For me, football is the most beautiful sport in the world. It's a fast-paced logic game, a chess game, a whirlwind game, and sometimes it's incredibly crazy. People who play also love it. One of the first questions Hamlin asked the doctors (in writing) when he woke up from the layoff was who won when he collapsed and played. But football, and it can kill people every year, even in high school. My favorite sport is football. The sport that brought me the most is football. But sports have destroyed lives and families. What do I and other lovers of this sport owe?
I put that question to Domonic Foxworth, former NFL cornerback, former president of the NFL Players Association and ESPN contributor, for his candid and honest discussions about Hamlin and how people see NFL players who watch the sport. "I don't know if I have a real answer to that," he said. He added: "They are inhuman when they do something more extraordinary than most and fail."
He said the discussion about what football fans owe people is complicated by race, money, fame and who knows what else. He added: “I'm sure there were a million tragedies across the country on Monday night and Damar Hamlin was the only person who got any sympathy. I think it makes me feel good. But "I also wonder how we as fans would react if there was a silly penalty that cost the game." I have seen this reaction many times. And to be honest, I've gotten that reaction many times myself.
We often think of footballers as untouchable gods or useless wimps who can't do anything (just like we can't). But footballers are people first. After Hamlin collapsed, his teammates took off their helmets and some knelt beside him, others comforted nearby. I saw faces I knew from years of sports and some I had never seen before, all filled with worry and concern for their friend, their teammate, their brother.
Some fans at the stadium gathered there to pray for Hamlin, while others went to the hospital to show support outside. The reason they did it is because they saw what we all saw on the field that night watching an NFL game; real people who participated in sports, beautiful and brutal, for our entertainment.