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Updated: Jan 29, 2023

By: Aaron X

Original Date: 1/12/23

Hello sports fans, and welcome back to the IE Sports Radio Blog. It seems that the entire world was turned upside down by the injury sustained by Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin. During a January 2nd game between Cincinnati and Buffalo, Hamlin made a routine tackle. He stood up immediately after the hit, as he has likely done after every tackle he has ever made. After a second on his feet, he fell on his back. Emergency personnel ran to his aid, found that Hamlin was unresponsive, and conducted CPR for approximately 9 minutes on the field. He was taken to a local hospital where he was intubated and remained in critical condition for several days.

The game was (appropriately) postponed/canceled. Even though this game had significant implications for the NFL playoffs, the teams, officials, and fans, at least temporarily, seemed to acknowledge that there are things in life much more important than the outcome of a football game. In a moment of great sadness and worry, people seemed to realize that these players are human beings, capable of pain, even death. They are not gladiators. They have families, they have loved ones, they have souls. They are not mere entertainers that exist purely for our competitive satisfaction. Once again, while the message is not worth the event, it is uplifting to see the outpouring of support and a calibration of proper perspective.

Contrast this to one day before. The Indianapolis Colts were playing the New York Giants in New Jersey. The Colts stink. They were on their third starting quarterback of the season, former Eagle and Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles. This was Foles second game starting for Indy, after being either the backup or inactive all season long. He was completely ineffective, and looks past his time. The Colts, Foles included, have been terrible in his starts. They were hopelessly outmatched by the Giants, and the final score was reflective of this.

Late in the second quarter, Foles dropped back to pass. As has happened on too many occasions this season, a defender, this time rookie Kayvon Thibodeaux, sacked Foles from the blindside. The hit, in my opinion, was clean (some differ), but was certainly brutal. Immediately after, Foles was spasming on the ground in an obvious great deal of pain. Correspondingly, Thibodeaux was celebrating his play by mimicking snow angels on the ground. Eventually, Thibodeaux stopped his jubilation. He had to have been made aware that Foles was hurt because play stopped.

I’m willing to give Thibodeaux the benefit of the doubt while he was doing snow angels. He said, “When I did realize that he was hurt, that’s when we started getting up…When you’re doing a celebration, you’re not looking to see who’s doing what. But hope he gets well and I hope he’s all right.”

By his own words, his own admission, he knew that Foles was injured “when we started getting up….” Foles remained on the ground writhing in pain, and eventually was treated by medical staff. This did not stop Thibodeaux from recommencing his celebration on the sideline, including doing the overused “going to sleep” gesture to the fans in the stadium. Foles suffered an undisclosed rib injury on the play. He is married with a 5 year old daughter and two year old son. He wrote a book and donated the proceeds of the book to charity. He has a charitable foundation called the Foles Believe Foundation.

This is a living, human being, with a soul, and a family. Injuries happen in football on routine plays. Serious injuries happen on absolutely clean hits. Injuries are never, ever something to be celebrated. Colts interim Head Coach Jeff Saturday described Thibodeaux’s actions as “trash.” They certainly were the actions of someone who has, at the minimum, lost perspective. At most, they were malicious and indicative of poor character.

I write this not to complain about the hit on Nick Foles or to make light of Hamlin’s situation. Foles will recover (though at the time of the hit, we did not know that). Hamlin has now, but there was uncertainty for a while. This is not a fan whining about a loss. Rather, this is a plea to keep this silly game that we love to watch in the appropriate perspective. We as a society need to let Thibodeaux and others that will follow his example know that human lives are more important than a great sack or a win. When Thibodeaux celebrates an injury, and we cheer, what message do we send? We must expect him to be better, and we fans, in turn, must be better. The relationship is circuitous and symbiotic.

I was proud of society in the way we responded to Hamlin’s terrible condition. There was empathy. There was sympathy. There was patience. There was empathy for the human struggle. This isn’t always the case. Do better, and thank goodness Hamlin made it out okay.

Aaron is the host of The Crossroads Pod, our Indiana centered show which airs on Saturdays at 11am EST/8am PST. Be sure to tune this and all of the other awesome shows on IESR, as well as live calls from our partner station USRN. Shout out to our patreon supporters and all you loyal listeners that continue to help our network grow. Thank you for reading, and we will see you next time on IE Sports Radio; your direct feed for ALL that is sports.

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