ALLEN PARK — It’s been a rough week in the NFL. Everyone knows he knows Damar Hamlin or knows someone who knows Damar Hamlin. Fear and terror spread throughout the League when we saw that man fall.
“I’m Damar,” said Detroit Lions pass rusher Austin Bryant. So there is a lot to incorporate.”
Needless to say, it was an inspiring week at Allen Park. Running back Dandre Swift has developed a close relationship with Hamlin since they met at the 2013 Pennsylvania State Championship. Cornerback Jerry Jacobs has developed a close relationship with Hamlin since connecting and training with the same agent fresh out of college. During the draft process in Florida. And when Jacobs wasn’t drafted, Hamlin was the first to reach out to him.
Later, Jacobs was watching Monday Night Football when he saw his friend’s heart stop beating on national television.
“Oh, to be honest, I had to cut it off,” said Jacobs. “Because I really… I don’t have the words to describe how I felt. I was so sad. I got chills because it could have been me. It could have been everyone.” .
Does this really sound like a team ready to play another game in two days? Let alone an emotional, high stakes win against the hated Green Bay Packers. Not a showdown? Are their playoff lives at stake? On national television?
Ready or not, the game is coming. The NFL has announced that the Bills-Bengals game has been canceled and will go ahead as scheduled in Week 18. That means the Lions are two days away from facing the red-hot Packers at Lambeau Field on Sunday Night Football.
It’s a tough thing to navigate, but players overwhelmingly say they’re embracing a return to football, both on and off record.
“If something like that happens with our team, or the team we played against that day, I feel like it shouldn’t be thinking about the game,” Swift said. I feel like I should play because my health is positive.”
Related: Steve Politi says NFL should postpone games this weekend
Fullback Jason Cabinda, the Lions’ NFLPA representative, said he would probably give up football if he suffered an injury like Hamlin’s. But seeing it isn’t enough to persuade him to quit the game he loves and cares about his family. it’s finished.
“It sure is hard,” Cabinda said. “But at the end of the day, this is a game where you know what you’re signing up for. But no one expected that to happen.”
Not everyone feels that way. Bryant, a fourth-year pass rusher entering the final game of his rookie deal, said he felt fear for the first time on the New England field. It was terrifying for him to see his teammate Syvion Smith fall to the turf with temporary paralysis, and he was shaken to see Hamlin go down this week.
“We try not to think about it,” Bryant said. “We all think we’re tough guys here, but situations like that show just how not tough we are. It’s right for the team to play on Sunday.” I don’t know if I’m right or wrong, but I know there will be anxious players, anxious fans, and anxious families when all 32 teams kick off this weekend.
Asked directly if he thinks games should be played this week, Bryant replied: Office, (all of us) going to work the next day? that’s all i got.
Some offices may be closed. Many others are left open. Right or wrong, fair or not, the world keeps spinning despite many challenges. The NFL is no exception. The Bills-Bengals match has been declared a no-contest and is not scheduled to end, but all other matches will take place next weekend. The playoffs are still set to start next week.
Detroit is one of three teams competing for the final spot on the NFC playoff field. The vast majority of players are ready to get back into business. Even those who know Hamlin best.
“I’m not saying you shouldn’t play,” Jacobs said. “Because at the end of the day, people needed to feed their families. I know him personally, so I don’t have to bang Damar. I think we should think about what we can do to help because just stopping the season won’t do us any good, and it will affect us, but we want to play in Green Bay. We want them, we’re just praying for (Hamlin), brother.