EDITORIAL: Response to Hamlin's injury shows best of us

Jan. 5—Niagara Falls was bathed in blue Monday night.

It was an international show of support for injured Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin, his teammates and the city of Buffalo.

The goodwill gesture by the Niagara Falls Illumination Board was just a tiny bit of Tuesday's outpouring of support for Hamlin.

The Bills defensive back remained in critical condition Tuesday after the Bills say his heart stopped following a tackle during Monday night's game against the Cincinnati Bengals — which has now been indefinitely postponed.

To say Monday night's game was highly anticipated would be an understatement. There was a lot on the line and fans on both sides were hyped up, as we saw early in the broadcast.

But all that came to a sudden, terrifying halt when Hamlin collapsed on the field during the first quarter of the nationally televised game and was given medical treatment for nearly 20 minutes on the field before being taken to a hospital.

The emotional reaction of Hamlin's teammates on the TV screen and the quiet, measured words of the ESPN analysts were signs that Hamlin's wasn't a typical on-field injury during a game, it was something far worse.

"Damar Hamlin suffered a cardiac arrest following a hit in our game versus the Bengals. His heartbeat was restored on the field and he was transferred to the UC Medical Center for further testing and treatment," the Bills later explained in a statement. "He is currently sedated and listed in critical condition."

As medical officials worked, it was notable that the stadium was silent in respect for Hamlin — tens of thousands of voices, many of them Bengals fans, that had been loudly cheering just minutes before were struck mute.

And something became clear that is not always so: It's only a game.

This being the social media age it is, word quickly spread to those who weren't even watching the game. Even people who don't care about football voiced their support.

And the support did not end at social media posts that really don't make a difference. A GoFundMe campaign, set up by Hamlin to raise $2,500 to buy toys for needy kids, exceeded $4 million in donations on Tuesday.

And we've learned a bit about Hamlin in the hours since his heart stopped on a football field.

A sixth-round draft pick two years ago, he got the chance this year to be a starter. It seems he has made the most of that opportunity and has impressed teammates and fans not only with his play, but with his character.

For casual fans, it's a rare, humanizing moment, a deeper look at someone viewed until now primarily as an entertainer.

Another reminder that it's only a game is the fact that the NFL stopped the game. Even hardcore fans seem to understand that was the right thing to do.

Jeff Miller, an NFL executive vice president, told reporters on a conference call early Tuesday that the league had made no plans at this time to play the game, adding that Hamlin's health was the main focus.

On the field Monday night, Buffalo quarterback Josh Allen and his Cincinnati counterpart Joe Burrow, embraced.

"Please pray for our brother," Allen tweeted.

Sportsmanship. Humanity. On full display for millions to see.