AP

Back to work not business as usual for Damar Hamlin’s peers

Jan 4, 2023, 4:48 PM | Updated: Jan 5, 2023, 6:52 am

Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow speaks with the media, Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2023, in Cincin...

Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow speaks with the media, Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2023, in Cincinnati. Damar Hamlin was taken to the hospital after collapsing on the field during the Bill's NFL football game against the Cincinnati Bengals on Monday night. (Kareem Elgazzar/The Cincinnati Enquirer via AP)

(Kareem Elgazzar/The Cincinnati Enquirer via AP)

For Damar Hamlin’s teammates, peers and everyone in the NFL community, going back to work is not business as usual.

Players returned to practice with heavy hearts on Wednesday, two days after Hamlin went into cardiac arrest and needed to be resuscitated on the field during Buffalo’s game at Cincinnati.

Hamlin, the 24-year-old Bills safety, remains hospitalized in critical condition, but his teammates are set to play the Patriots on Sunday, and all games for Week 18 remain on schedule.

Some players across the league have expressed concern about playing this weekend because they’re still processing what happened to Hamlin. Many were in tears watching him receive medical attention on the field. They’re praying for his recovery and are dealing with emotions they’ve never experienced playing a sport.

“I’m sure if you polled the locker room there would be mixed votes on that,” Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow said about playing against the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday. “Personally, I think playing is going to be tough. But there’s people that want to play, and there’s people that don’t. Personally, I probably want to play. I think getting back to as normal as you can as fast as you can is how I deal with these kind of things. But like I said, everybody has a different way of dealing with it.”

The league and the NFL Players Association have shared with teams, players and coaches the mental health-related resources available to them. Each team has a licensed behavioral health clinician on staff, as well as a pain management specialist.

The players’ union makes a directory available to all players to help them locate a clinician near them, be it a psychiatrist, psychologist, social worker or counselor.

“I think it is certainly key that we acknowledge how great a strain this places on everyone involved,” said the NFL’s chief medical officer, Dr. Allen Sills. “Certainly, the teams, the medical care providers, the staffs — and this is not just for Buffalo and Cincinnati — but across all our teams. … We have resources at each of our clubs, and we’ve emphasized preparation in this way. Our clubs have deployed those resources with their counselors and their mental health professionals. And that support extends throughout the entire NFL family, and it will be an ongoing need. This is something that will continue and it’s something we will continue to emphasize.”

The Bills held team meetings and a walkthrough practice without any media availability on Wednesday. They are scheduled to resume practice on Thursday, with coach Sean McDermott and some players expected to speak to reporters.

Philadelphia Eagles defensive tackle Fletcher Cox said he couldn’t play this weekend if Hamlin was his teammate.

“That’s too hard, man,” Cox said. “You think about this game, you think about all the guys that were right there when it happened. You always think about those guys. What’s going through their mind. You know that those guys are going through it. Everybody that was right there seeing what was going on, they’re going through it.”

Cleveland Browns cornerback Greg Newsome II said it will be challenging to play the season finale in Pittsburgh — Hamlin grew up in the area — given the extraordinary circumstances.

“It’s definitely going to be tough to finish out this last game and just go on the field knowing that there’s somebody out there that is in a life-or-death situation,” Newsome said before practice Wednesday. “It’s definitely going to be very tough and hopefully that’s why we got our guys around us and we can all talk through it and things like that, but it’ll for sure be tough.”

The New Orleans Saints had the team psychologist present when they gathered for a meeting Wednesday.

“It’s OK to admit if you need a little help,” coach Dennis Allen said.

Allen experienced firsthand the death of a teammate. He was a safety at Texas A&M in 1991 when kicker James Glenn died of heart failure on the field while warming up for practice.

“It still sticks with you to this day. Any time you have somebody that’s, especially a young guy, that in every other sense, you expect is fully healthy, and to see something like that happen, it’s hard to deal with,” Allen said. “I know what kind of effect it had on our team. So, I can only imagine the guys that were on the field at that point in time, how that emotionally affects them.”

Ready or not, the Bills, Bengals and 30 other NFL teams are returning to the field this week. Players must be mentally prepared for action in a sport that requires full attention.

“You can’t compartmentalize it,” Green Bay Packers wide receiver Randall Cobb said. “That was really tough to watch. It was really difficult to see. … You always prepare your mind for how physical and how violent of a game it is. It’s a tough sport we play, but I never thought I would see or witness anything like that. I can’t help but just think about him and his family and hope that they are holding up well and pray that he comes out on the other side of it and comes back and is in full health.”

___

AP Sports Writers Brett Martel, Tom Withers, Steve Megargee, Dan Gelston and Mitch Stacy contributed to this report.

___

Follow Rob Maaddi on Twitter at https://twitter.com/robmaaddi

___

AP NFL: https://apnews.com/hub/nfl and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Associated Press

Ex-Packer Guion gets 1 year for domestic violence assault

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Former Green Bay Packers defensive tackle Letroy Guion was sentenced to one year in jail after pleading no contest in a domestic violence assault at his home last fall. Brown County Circuit Court Judge Thomas Walsh also ordered Guion on Tuesday to serve three years’ probation and complete a domestic […]

1 year ago

Joe Jarzynka...

Associated Press

Durant eager for Suns debut vs. Hornets after knee injury

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Kevin Durant has been through quite a bit during his 15-year NBA career — but joining a new team midway through the season is a new one for the 13-time All-Star. The 34-year-old Durant doesn’t seem all that worried. Durant makes his highly anticipated Phoenix Suns debut on Wednesday night against […]

1 year ago

FILE - Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores stands on the sideline during the second half of an N...

Associated Press

Judge: NFL coach can press discrimination claims in court

NEW YORK (AP) — NFL Coach Brian Flores can pursue some of his discrimination claims against the league and its teams in court rather than through arbitration, a judge ruled Wednesday. The written decision by Judge Valerie Caproni in Manhattan was issued months after lawyers for the league tried to get the lawsuit moved to […]

1 year ago

Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Alex Stalock cools off in the first period during an NHL hockey game ...

Associated Press

Kane trade reinforces hard reality of Blackhawks rebuild

CHICAGO (AP) — After days of speculation, the harsh reality of the Chicago Blackhawks’ situation was reinforced by one move in a flurry of transactions ahead of the NHL trade deadline. Showtime is over, at least in Chicago, and a seemingly bright future is, well, way off in the distance. The reverberations of Chicago’s decision […]

1 year ago

FILE -  Yves Jean-Bart, president of the Haitian Football Federation, wearing a protective face mas...

Associated Press

Disgraced ex-Haitian soccer president announces he’s back

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) — Haiti’s former soccer federation president whose lifetime ban from sport over sexual abuse allegations was overturned last month announced Wednesday that he is reclaiming his position. Yves Jean-Bart’s defiant announcement could lead to a standoff with FIFA, which already has appointed an emergency management committee to lead the Haitian Football Association […]

1 year ago

FILE - Green Bay Packers' Aaron Rodgers walks off the field after an NFL football game against the ...

Associated Press

Rodgers says decision on future will come ‘soon enough’

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Aaron Rodgers says he will make a decision on his future “soon enough” as the four-time MVP quarterback ponders whether to play next season and if his future remains with the Green Bay Packers. Rodgers, 39, discussed his future while speaking on an episode of the “Aubrey Marcus Podcast” that […]

1 year ago

Back to work not business as usual for Damar Hamlin’s peers