Hulne: Tragic moment on the field brings reflection

Published 6:14 pm Tuesday, January 3, 2023

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“Not one second of our life is promised.”

Those were the words of Buffalo Bills offensive lineman Dion Dawkins as he spoke about his teammate Damar Hamlin, who collapsed on the field during the Monday Night Football game between the Bills and Bengals, during CNN broadcast on Monday night.

If you weren’t watching the game, you’ve probably heard about the moment frozen in time that put the mighty NFL to a screeching halt.
I was watching the game with my children, and the moment hit hard. Not only was I concerned about Hamlin’s safety and heartbroken for his teammates who were shedding tears, I thought of the moment as something that happens often but is rarely documented in real time.

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Every day there are tragedies that hit people so hard, they momentarily lose their focus on reality and doubt their trust in any type of worldly rules.

In this job, I have spoken to plenty of athletes who have lost loved ones and they always hit me hard. Those stories are the most gut wrenching ones to write.

I feel like the pressure is on me to portray the subject’s life in a proper light or I will be doing them and their family a disservice. I also have to be sensitive to the subject of the interview and not push them too hard when asking about the memories of their loved one.

Those stories, and Hamlin’s, are a harsh reminder of the constant change that is looming in this world. Even events as joyful as a football game under the lights right after New year’s Day can become a horrific scene in a moment’s glance.

As I watched and waited during Monday’s event, I felt absolutely helpless. Not just for what was happening in the game, but for what was happening in my own world.

My kids will likely grow old enough to move out someday and their safety will then be in their hands. Anything can happen on a given day in a world that spins out chaos when it is least expected.

The weight of that thought was on my shoulders as I watched grown NFL players shedding tears and breaking down on the field as their friend and teammate was rushed away in an ambulance.

As I was texting with my loved ones about what was happening on the field, one of my best friends offered some sage advice. He simply stated that we live to find a life worth dying for.

I gazed at my children after reading the text and his words rang true. We do not live forever, but if we live with purpose, our impact can be passed on. That is all of the motivation we need to live a good, purposeful life.

Make it all count.