On Monday night, the Buffalo Bills suited up against the Cincinnati Bengals in what was supposed to be one of the most exciting NFL games of the year.
But tragedy struck late in the first quarter as America witnessed one of the scariest sports moments to hit national television in decades.
Damar Hamlin, 24, who is a defensive back for the Bills, stood up after making a routine tackle, then collapsed.
Within moments trainers rushed to his aid as players surrounded their fallen teammate.
What seemed like a possible head injury at first turned even more tragic as Hamlin stopped breathing on the field. He was administered CPR and immediately taken to the hospital.
According to ESPN, Hamlin suffered a cardiac arrest after making a tackle and his heartbeat was restored on the field.
After his injury players on both teams were visibly shaken, some even crying uncontrollably.
But the league only gave the players five minutes to collect their thoughts, warm up and continue playing.
Players and coaches from both sides then spoke to league officials and apparently convinced the NFL to suspend the remainder of the game.
“Our thoughts are with Damar and the Buffalo Bills. We will provide more information as it becomes available,” the NFL said in a statement.
“The NFL has been in constant communication with the NFL Players Association which is in agreement with postponing the game.”
But many fans, players, and pundits have criticized the NFL’s handling of the decisions made after Hamlin’s collapse.
According to Time, it took the NFL over an hour to officially suspend the game after Hamlin was taken off the field. It was also apparently not their decision as it’s been reported players and coaches weren’t going to play after Hamlin’s injury.
“[NFL] can say whatever it wants to say about [playing the game]… a group of men locked arms on different sides of a sideline and said no we’re not,” said ESPN’s Scott Van Pelt.
But Troy Vincent, the league’s executive vice president of football operations, told Time the NFL allegedly never planned on resuming play.
“I’m not sure where that came from,” Vincent said. “It never crossed our mind to talk about warming up to resume play. That’s ridiculous. That’s insensitive. That’s not a place we should ever be in.”
According to reports, Damar Hamlin is currently in critical condition at a Cincinnati hospital.