The cardiac arrest suffered by Buffalo Bills NFL player Damar Hamlin had Christians and non-believers around the world praying for his recovery.
He collapsed mid-game in Cincinnati and had to be resuscitated on the field as players and staff from both teams prayed around him.
He was in a critical condition and it was touch and go whether he’d survive.
The Hamlin family asked fans and well-wishers: “Please keep Damar in your prayers.”
Many did, attending a prayer service at a Cincinnati church and a prayer vigil taking place outside the nearby hospital where he was fighting for life.
Every one of the 32 NFL teams amended their Twitter avatar to say Pray for Damar.
Praying for Hamlin featured in more than 50,000 tweets.
Thankfully, Damar Hamlin was discharged from hospital on Monday (January 9) after his neurological function was found to be intact.
He sent out a message thanking every single person who prayed for him and requested that they continue to do so.
Buffalo Bills coach Sean McDermott credited God’s “healing powers” for his player’s recovery.
Hamlin’s on-field collapse became a catalyst for an army of prayer warriors to intercede on his behalf.
ESPN sports analyst and former player Dan Orlovsky prayed for him LIVE on air as his co-presenters bowed their heads.
Columnist Joshua Arnold wrote in The Washington Stand it demonstrated that “Christianity still maintains incredible cultural influence in America.”
That’s despite what he calls “decades of routine mockery and secular infiltration.”
He noted that when “unexpected, unexplained tragedy strikes, ordinary citizens and influential people across America’s institutions alike turn to prayer.”
Prior to Hamlin’s return home, the columnist observed: “Perhaps most striking of all, Orlovsky’s prayer, broadcast nationwide, has met with encouragement, not the scorn and ridicule typically heaped upon prayer in the aftermath of tragedy. The NFL, although extremely divided over taking a knee for the national anthem, has unanimously approved taking a knee for Hamlin’s recovery. Even people who confess that they don’t pray are praying or calling for prayer. Anyone who disagrees with this outpouring of prayer has kept his thoughts to himself.”
Catholic League president Bill Donohue wrote that prayer was entirely appropriate in the circumstances.
He noted that the NFL and ESPN which embrace the politics of the Left had not sanctioned players or pundits for praying.
Mr. Donohue observed that public displays of group prayer at NFL games have been going on for decades.
Chaplains of opposing teams often requested that the players kneel and huddle in prayer after a game.
However, overtly Christian behaviour has been increasingly spurned in recent years.
New Orleans player Demario Davis was fined A$10,000 in 2019 for wearing a headband with the words Man of God.
Davis didn’t have to pay up after arguing he didn’t know wearing the headband was a fine-worthy offence, that it wasn’t offensive, and that he wouldn’t wear it during a game again.
Other players haven’t been punished for displaying social justice messages like Stop Hate and Black Lives Matter.
Mr. Donohue concluded it would be great if the NFL’s newfound support for prayer signaled an epiphany for greater tolerance of Christian messages.
But he added: “Don’t get your hopes up,” anticipating that football bosses will still have a problem publicly acknowledging God.