ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — A deep thinker who is not afraid to express his thoughts or feelings, Broncos interim head coach Jerry Rosburg was the proper leader to address his team about the frightening incident Monday night involving Bills’ safety Damar Hamlin.
After tackling Cincinnati Bengals receiver Tee Higgins in the chest area, Hamlin got up and fell straight backwards after suffering what the Bills later described was cardiac arrest. The game was postponed and in the 48 hours since, Hamlin has reportedly showed encouraging improvement but remains in critical condition at a Cincinnati hospital.
With the game played in front of a national audience, Hamlin’s cardiac arrest has captured the hearts and souls of the nation with conversation topics centered around the dangers of playing football to how the game will be made up to the incredible quick responsive medical care he received.
Rosburg spoke about the Hamlin episode to his players at a team meeting Wednesday.
“We talked about shared values,’’ Rosburg said. “We all love football in that room, those players and coaches. We all have loved and enjoyed this game for a long time.…Then we have a situation such as happened on Monday Night Football where one of our football brothers, Damar Hamlin is injured. And at that moment were slapped back to reality. Players and coaches on that field recognized that football was now placed in an inferior position to life itself.
“The reaction on the field to me is perfectly representative of that natural reaction to the value we hold. Of life. Knees were taken. Hands were grabbed. We were faced with something far superior and you saw the men and women on that field humble themselves to that mystery.’’
Rosburg was taken by how players, coaches and support staff from both teams came together in their moment of grief for the stricken player. He said Broncos rookie cornerback Damarri Mathis, a college teammate of Hamlin at Pitt, wrote down some things about Hamlin and had Rosburg read those thoughts to the Broncos team. High character, friendly, ability to lead, an unselfish commitment to others and community service (including a toy drive that has since exploded with donations).
“So today, Damar, we honor you,’’ Rosburg said as practice approached. “We will strive to do better. To be better in the areas of our life that you were so good at and you with all due course and prayers return to. We will strive not to exalt ourselves but raise others up like you did. Especially those who are laid low. Like you did. So for now while you’re recovering we’re here to raise you up. To Damar and family we want you to know the Broncos are with you.”
Rosburg was asked if any of his Broncos players were so shaken by the Hamlin incident that they needed special counsel.
“It’s hard to gauge that,’’ Rosburg said. “But the action the organization took so rapidly – and appropriately, I would add – was really impressive. As you know we were off so the people here in the building got information to our players where if they needed counseling or needed help or needed spiritual guidance or they needed anyone in the building that we were there for them.
“So how many players sought that and the depth in which they participated in that I really don’t have that information but I know they utilized it and we said that again today in the team meeting.’’
Broncos head trainer Vince Garcia addressed the team Wednesday by informing the players of the trained emergency medical personnel and equipment that’s available at an NFL game site.
“My understanding was at the Cincinnati Bengals stadium that kicked in quickly and effectively,’’ Rosburg said. “And we’re all praying that all those measures taken and all those precautions and all the practice and training those people go through came through in this instance.”
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