The Monday Night Football game between the Cincinnati Bengals and the Buffalo Bills should have been a routine game to close out the NFL’s Week 17. Both teams entered with determination to better their playoff aspirations, but things quickly took a turn for the worst when a Bills player went down hard in the first quarter.
Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin reacts to a play on the field. The second-year starter suffered cardiac arrest on the field during Bills’ Monday Night Football game against the Cincinnati Bengals. (Image: Getty Images)
Bills safety Damar Hamlin collapsed on the field with just over five minutes to play in the first quarter after suffering what was later determined to be cardiac arrest. Medical personnel immediately rushed onto the field and administered CPR before rushing him to University of Cincinnati Medical Center.
The 24-year-old Hamlin, in his second year in the league, remains in critical condition, according to the latest from the NFL. As a result of the incident, the game was called off, with a decision on when it will be played still pending.
Scary Turn of Events
Cincinnati led 7-3 at the time the incident occurred. Hamlin apparently went down after tackling Bengals receiver Tee Higgins in a play that didn’t appear unusually violent.
Video shows that Higgins attempted to deflect the incoming tackle with his right shoulder, which hit Hamlin in the chest. The defensive back then wrapped up Higgins to bring him down.
NFL player Damar Hamlin of the Buffalo Bills has a cardiac arrest on the pitch. He is in critical condition. Nothing to see, move along…pic.twitter.com/ut975oDwLf
— David Vance (@DVATW) January 3, 2023
Nothing seemed out of the ordinary as Hamlin got on his feet, adjusted his uniform and headed back to his teammates. However, just a few seconds later, he collapsed onto the turf. That was when medical personnel took over and rushed him to the hospital.
Initially, it was assumed that play would resume, with both teams showing signs that they were ready to take the field once again. However, Bengals head coach Zack Taylor approached Bills head coach Sean McDermott and the refs. Later, after discussing the issue among themselves and with league executives, they mutually agreed to suspend the game.
Hamlin, a product of the Pittsburgh Panthers, has only known the Bills since they picked him in the 2021 Draft. His role was as a backup to Micah Hyde, but he moved up when the latter exited this season following a neck injury in Week 2.
There has been an outpouring of support for Hamlin across the league, both internally and from fans everywhere. His charity, Chasing M’s Foundation, has seen donations skyrocket, as well. A GoFundMe page supporting a toy drive established by the charity has over $3 million in donations, most of which came following the on-field accident.
What Happens Next
As devastating as this situation is, and even though the game and the league are not as important as Hamlin’s life, there are still certain considerations that have to be made. The game was to set the stage for the NFL and its postseason standings, and will still have to be played at some point.
The suspension also impacts the sports betting community, as well. Most reputable sportsbooks will refund all wagers, even if they don’t have established rules. However, many books include in their terms and conditions that games must run for at least 55 minutes to be considered valid.
This is true of Station Casinos and South Point, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal. DraftKings, FanDuel and others have similar guidelines.
Circa Sports and Westgate SuperBook expect makeup games to take place within eight days of their original date for any wagers to be valid. DraftKings and BetMGM explain on their websites that it will void bets if the game is not completed within 48 hours of the original date.
However, that only applies to games that are re-started from where they left off. If a suspended game is played in its entirety, DraftKings voids all of the wagers from the original game.
Some exceptions apply. Certain prop bets, such as who scores the first touchdown or whether the first series of plays ends in a field goal, may still stand.
The NFL has yet to announce what will happen. That decision could come at some point today. Depending on what it says, the outcome could also impact two major contests in Las Vegas.
The Circa Million IV contest won’t continue unless the Bills and Bengals finish their game by 1:59 AM Wednesday. The Westgate’s SuperContest has a deadline of midnight tonight.
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