JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Hearing that Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin is showing “remarkable improvement” is a relief to many people.
This development came three days after the 24-year-old player went into cardiac arrest and had to be resuscitated on the field.
Dr. Justin D’Arienzo is a sports psychologist. He says people everywhere are uniting for Hamlin.
“People that are not even sports fans are empathizing with this whole situation and supporting the Bills and the Bills Mafia, you know, so it’s, it’s really interesting, and it shows that we’re, maybe, we’re not so divisive,” D’Arienzo said.
When a News4JAX viewer missed a package, a UPS driver left a note after seeing a Bills flag flying on the viewer’s home.
The note says” “Prayers For Hamlin #3.”
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“I think it says a lot about our humanity,” D’Arienzo said.
Fans watch football for the high energy, competition and unforgettable plays. But we can forget these athletes are people, living out their dreams and putting their bodies on the line for our entertainment. It’s one reason former NFL and CFL player Trey Johnson retired.
“My mom saw that play. When I got home, like, the hug that my mom gave me, like, felt a little different. “She’s like, ‘Trey, I’m just so happy that you’re here. You know, what I mean? Like, I’m happy that you made it out of that alive,’” Johnson told News4JAX.
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Johnson says his heart dropped after seeing Hamlin fall to the ground.
He knows what it’s like to be injured in a game — desperate to get back so he doesn’t let his team or his community down.
But where will athletes draw the line, especially after seeing what happened to Hamlin?
“One of the main characteristics that you build is a next play mentality. The most important plays, the next play is going to happen, and with that mentality, it allows you to process things a lot faster and move on to things a lot faster,” Johnson said.
News4JAX asked Johnson where the next play mentality falls for football playing taking the field this weekend.
“Me putting myself in those shoes, I would end up playing for him (Hamlin),” Johnson said.
Real conversations about how this impacts athletes matter.
“These young men are well aware of the dangers of playing the game, and the problem is, is that they do have to compartmentalize, and they know this,” D’Arienzo said.
Johnson and News4JAX talked a lot about how football is a business and players want to be able to keep providing for their families.
Johnson trains athletes now, and News4JAX asked him, after everything with Hamlin, what his message to athletes will be. He said simply put — life is bigger than football.