Cincinnati has been the unfortunate site of multiple scary NFL moments

Calling Bills safety Damar Hamlin’s injury on Monday Night Football “scary” is an understatement.

On Wednesday, Hamlin was sedated and on a ventilator, in critical condition, at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center after collapsing on the field after a routine tackle in the first quarter of the highly-anticipated Bengals-Bills game.

His uncle, Dorrian Glenn, said in an interview with ESPN that his nephew was resuscitated twice — once on the field and again when he got to the hospital.

What happened is seldom seen in any professional sports setting, especially the country’s most popular league. It didn’t just stop the game, it postponed it as coaches and players on both sides huddled, prayed and cried in response to what took place in front of them.

Cincinnati has been unfortunate enough to bear witness to some of the scariest moments in recent NFL history.

Just weeks earlier, Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa was taken off the field at Paycor Stadium on a stretcher during Thursday Night Football. After a sack in the second quarter, Tagovailoa remained motionless as he lay on the ground — the image of his fingers still stretched engrained in fans’ memories.

He, too, was taken to UCMC, where officials reported he was conscious and had movement in all extremities. The game continued with backup Teddy Bridgewater replacing Tagovailoa, but the injury sparked outrage as fans, fellow players and media members questioned why the 24-year-old was even playing after suffering a head injury in the previous game.

Credit: Emilee Chinn

Credit: Emilee Chinn

Years earlier, Ryan Shazier suffered a life-changing injury while making a head-first tackle during a Monday Night Football matchup between the Bengals and Steelers. He underwent spinal stabilization surgery after losing feeling in his legs following the hit. He never played in another NFL game again, officially retiring in 2020.

Shazier tweeted his prayers for Hamlin after he collapsed Monday night.

In another Bengals-Steelers game, this time during the 2016 playoffs, wide receiver Antonio Brown suffered a concussion after taking a hit to the head. He did not play the next game. The Bengals player who hit Brown, linebacker Vontaze Burfict, served a three-game suspension.

Burfict himself was carted off the field with a concussion one season later after a blindside block from Steelers receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster during Monday Night Football.

Credit: John Minchillo

Credit: John Minchillo

A decade earlier, Bengals linebacker David Pollack broke his neck while tackling Browns running back Reuben Droughns. He was unable to move his upper body after hitting Droughns head-first, later regaining movement in his arms and legs. He never played another snap.

In 1971, safety Ken Dyer suffered a severe spinal contusion while tackling Packers running back John Brockington on the second play of the game. He remained at the hospital for three weeks, doctors originally predicting he would be confined to a wheelchair for the rest of his life. He never used one, but was never able to return to the game he loved.

Outside of football, Reds fans at Opening Day in 1996 witnessed umpire John McSherry collapse on the field while attempting to walk to the umpires’ room in the middle of the game. He was rushed to the hospital, but doctors could never get his heart to beat again. He was pronounced dead about 50 minutes later. The coroner said he died of clogged arteries and an enlarged heart.

The remaining umpires originally said they would resume the game after a 30-minute break, saying McSherry would’ve wanted that. The players, though, said they did not want to continue playing out of respect for him and his life.

“Barry (Larkin) said he had a lot of recent deaths in his family and was very shaken. He said, ‘Out of good conscience, I can’t go back out there.’”

Maurice Stokes, a three-time NBA All-Star who played for the Cincinnati Royals, was permanently paralyzed when he suffered a seizure three days after he was knocked unconscious while hitting his head as he fell to the court.

Fans in every city have witnessed injuries or moments that remind them what’s important — not the game nor its outcome, but the human beings.

This article is from WCPO, a content partner of Cox First Media.

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