Rob Hunt: No in between in response to Hamlin injury

Jan. 5—As usual, millions were watching "Monday Night Football" this week. There was great anticipation for the game between top AFC contenders Buffalo and Cincinnati, and it seemed be living up to expectations after both teams scored early.

By now, we all know the story changed abruptly when Bills safety Damar Hamlin collapsed after making a rather normal looking tackle seen hundreds of times every Sunday when fans are binging their favorite sport.

Hamlin went into cardiac arrest and had to be resuscitated on the field, and one relative said that process was repeated after he arrived at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center. While there are reports Hamlin is making progress, he is still in critical condition and battling for his life.

Because the game was nationally televised, the incident had plenty of eyes on it which means there was ample reaction from all corners of the nation.

That response has come in basically two forms, incredibly beautiful or extremely ugly.

There has not been much in between those extremes.

While fans and players were rallying to support Hamlin in endless ways — social media posts, donations to Hamlin's charity, even ESPN's Dan Orlovsky praying for Hamlin during a broadcast — there were idiotic statements from the usual idiots.

Skip Bayless — the former ESPN firebrand and current Fox Sports bloviator — sent several tweets hoping for Hamlin's health but also fired off a take about the importance of finishing the game. His message went out to his 3.2 million followers at 9:30 p.m. eastern time, while Hamlin was fighting for his life and his teammates and opponents were visibly shaken to the point of tears. A football and the playoff picture were the furthest from their minds as well as the minds of every decent human being watching.

Bayless tried to walk the tweet back, but his true priority was out there and damage to his already pitiful reputation was done.

Then there was Bart Scott.

The former Baltimore Raven and New York Jet is known for his animosity toward the Bengals franchise, and he went on his New York ESPN radio show Tuesday morning and basically blamed Cincinnati receiver Tee Higgins for the injury. Somehow, he came to the conclusion Higgins had lowered his helmet and drove it into Hamlin's chest.

Video evidence showed his claim to be just as preposterous as it sounds on the surface.

Then there was the ugliest of the ugly and the most idiotic of the idiotic individuals who had to chime in with their own self-serving takes.

There were the so-called "anti-vaxxers" who decided to take advantage of Hamlin's injury to push the false narrative his cardiac arrest was a result of taking the COVID vaccine.

These lying liars are something else. I saw one columnist say they were pushing a political agenda, and I have to respectfully disagree.

They were simply pushing their own ugliness.

Imagine being such an awful person that, while a family was gathering at a hospital to pray for recovery, while millions of dollars were being donated to Hamlin's charity and while the bulk of the nation hoped for the best, you decide to be that mean, hateful and ugly.

I'm far from perfect, but I can't imagine being that dreadful, and I'm thankful I haven't seen that nonsense from anyone I know, love and respect.

Instead of being one of these QAnon dum-dums, maybe be like one of the many who have contributed to Hamlin's charity, the Chasing M's Foundation.

The foundation's GoFundMe page, originally designed to raise a few thousand dollars to support toy drives and kids camps, has now raised over $7 million since his injury Monday night.

I hope for two things.

One, that Hamlin makes a full recovery and can return to his family.

And second, that the generosity of football fans everywhere is the first thing he is told about once he awakens.

Contact Rob Hunt at rob.hunt@heraldbulletin.com or 765-640-4886.