Pray for Damar: Public prayer blitz after Hamlin’s collapse | lifestyle

The intersection of prayer and sports was especially prominent in the wake of Damar Hamlin’s terrifying collapse during an NFL game.

All 32 NFL teams have included “Pray for Damar” on their Twitter avatars. ESPN’s Dan Orlovsky prayed for the Buffalo Bills safety on live television. Countless fans and other concerned observers on social media said they were praying and dozens joined hands outside his hospital in Cincinnati.

“When it comes to life or death in sports, people say pray, pray, pray a lot,” said Julie Byrne, chair of the religion department at Hofstra University. “I don’t think it will reach the level you have here because of the incredibly dramatic circumstances. But it’s a pretty quick answer.”

In Hamlin’s case, it’s been amplified in part because people can now offer instant expressions of prayer or any other reaction on social media. Additionally, it was a high-profile “Monday Night Football” game between Hamlin’s Bills and the Cincinnati Bengals, which millions watched or received alerts on their phones about the alarming incident.

Hamlin went into cardiac arrest after making what appeared to be a routine procedure in the first quarter. The second-year pro went into cardiac arrest and was resuscitated on the field.

On Friday, Hamlin, 24, was breathing on his own and able to speak after his breathing tube was removed, his agent said.

Players from both teams knelt on the field in prayer, not an unusual scene in a sport that has seen plenty of gruesome injuries. Each week after each game, many players from both teams join in a prayer circle, holding hands and kneeling; According to the Pew Research Center, 63% of adults in the United States identify as Christian, and 45% say they pray daily.

In Hamlin’s case, the declaration of faith was made very publicly.

“It’s new in terms of scale and scope,” said Paul Putz, associate director of the Faith & Sports Institute at Baylor University. “It’s not common to see someone open up in prayer or just say a prayer on a national television network. That’s certainly something new, but it also reflects this broader Christian subculture in the NFL.

Orlovsky, a former NFL quarterback, prayed for Hamlin during Tuesday’s live NFL broadcast as his two co-hosts bowed their heads and said “Amen” when he finished.

“If we didn’t believe that prayer (works), we wouldn’t be asking you, God,” Orlovsky said in the prayer. “I believe in prayer. We believe in prayer. In Thy name we lift up the name of Damar Hamlin.”

Orlovsky then told the AP agency in a text: “It was on my heart. The more we pray, the more Damar can come out of it.”

Bills coach Sean McDermott and general manager Brandon Beane thanked God in separate press conferences.

“I’m a Christian and I’m not afraid to say it, and I know that when you try to do good things or great things, sometimes you’re going to meet resistance,” McDermott said when asked about the team’s abilities. to respond to adversity.

NFL executive Troy Vincent, a five-time Pro Bowl quarterback during his 15-year career, praised God in an emotional news conference.

“At this moment, my greatest fear flashed before me, but for the goodness and grace of God, Damar is still here,” Vincent told the AP in a text.

Jeffrey Scholes, an associate professor of religious studies at the University of Colorado in Colorado Springs, said he had never seen such a public outpouring of prayer in any sport.

“For Dan Orlovsky to go into prayer was simply astounding,” said Scholes, who has written several books on religion and sports. “I’ve never seen anything like it. It felt a little more like The 700 Club than ESPN.”

He said football has always been more closely tied to faith than other major sports. Plus, it was a big game between two of the best teams in the AFC, and it was far from a standard injury game.

“I think the amount of prayer around this event makes a bit more sense because this event was so rare, so disturbing, so traumatic for the spectators, for the players, for the coaches,” Scholes said. “I think there is more expectation of calling for God’s intervention through prayer.”

Chuck Hughes is the only NFL player to die on the field. The 28-year-old Detroit Lions wide receiver suffered a fatal heart attack late in a game against the Chicago Bears on October 24, 1971. Putz later said that the newspaper reported about the players praying in their locker rooms.

“We didn’t have real-time public processing of (Hughes),” the Baylor professor said. “It wasn’t something millions of people were dealing with at the same time.

In 1971, Chuck Hughes — people answered with a prayer,” he added. “In 2023, when it happened with Hamlin, people answered with a prayer again. But now it’s amplified and magnified because of how social media works.”

Putz himself concentrated on the prayer and did not attempt to analyze the apparently prayerful answer from a historian’s point of view. Time will tell if this is the new normal in the social media world.

“I think over time we’ll realize what that meant, what it emphasized about the continuing connection between religion and sports that’s been going on for a long time,” Putz said.

AP Pro Football Writer Rob Maaddi contributed to this report.


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