The NFL community continues to process the events that occurred on Monday Night Football, which saw Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin transported to the hospital in critical condition after he abruptly collapsed in the middle of the game.
Several members of the Kansas City Chiefs spoke to the media for the first time since it happened on Wednesday, including wide receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling — who shared his thoughts on how Hamlin’s situation affects the entire football world.
“We all play this game, and we put our lives on the line and to see one of our football brothers — in this fraternity of football — go down like that and (almost) lose his life, it’s hard,” Valdes-Scantling told reporters on Wednesday. “We put our lives on the line every single play, and a lot of people take that for granted. It’s tough to see (and) it’s tough to sleep at night because that could’ve been any one of us. It could’ve been myself (or) any one of those guys in the locker room, and I think every football player around the country felt that.”
The Hamlin situation gave fans, players and everyone involved in football a grim reality check to the always-prevalent dangers of the sport. The fact that Hamlin went down after making a routine tackle highlights the volatile nature of football, where everyone is vulnerable on any given play. Valdes-Scantling acknowledged this harsh reality as he explained how players deal with knowing the dangers that reside on every down, especially for a position as susceptible to big hits as a wide receiver.
“You just play the game how you’ve always played it,” Valdes-Scantling explained. “That was a routine play that no one would’ve expected that to be the outcome of it. We thought it was a normal play that we’ve seen a million times. So you can’t go in there with fears that it can happen to you because it can happen to you on a routine play or a big hit, so it’s a part of the game, but obviously we don’t want to see anyone in that position ever again.”
Given the current circumstances, the Chiefs’ regular season finale against the Las Vegas Raiders seems irrelevant in the bigger picture. Many questioned if players in the league would be ready to move on so quickly after seeing the events of Monday night unfold. But players like Valdes-Scantling continue to march on, with Hamlin’s situation serving as an important reminder to cherish the opportunities they get to play the game they love.
“This is a game that I love, and I never take those games for granted,” Valdes-Scantling said. “I pray before I walk on the field every single Sunday – or Saturday in this case – just for my health, my teammates health and everybody who plays this game’s health. It’s still a dream of mine that I still take very serious and obviously health is the first thing that we all think about when we step on the field, but when you get out there, and you start to put those fears and doubts, that’s when more injuries happen.
“We try to take those worries and fears and anxieties out, but at the end of the day, our health is the most important thing.”