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Damar Hamlin incident could be a ‘wake-up call’ about how violent football is, ex-NFL star says

Shawne Merriman, a former Buffalo Bills linebacker who rose to stardom in the NFL with the San Diego Chargers, shed light on the impact the medical emergency Damar Hamlin suffered will have on players.

The Bills said Hamlin suffered a cardiac arrest and needed his heartbeat restarted on the field before he was rushed to the hospital. The game between the Bills and Cincinnati Bengals was postponed with no announcement of a makeup date set yet.

Merriman appeared on the “TMZ Sports” show and talked about the effect the incident would have on the players. Both Bills and Bengals players were emotional on the field as they witnessed medical personnel attending to Hamlin in real-time.

“It’s going to be playing in the minds of a lot of them. It was a wake-up call for a lot of people on just the possibilities of how violent this game could be,” Merriman said on the show. “I think football is the greatest sport in the world, but we also understand that there’s some heavy risk in that.”

Merriman added that the incident could change the minds of fans that football players are not immortal gladiators or superheroes – they are human beings.

“I think also it brought a human side. A lot of these players really get looked at as superhuman. This is a human on the ground that could possibly be fighting for his life,” he added.

Former NFL player Shawne Merriman is seen in attendance during the UFC Fight Night event at Capital One Arena on Dec. 7, 2019 in Washington, D.C.


Merriman was a three-time Pro Bowler and the 2005 Defensive Rookie of the Year. He led the league in sacks in 2006 with 17. He played six seasons with the Chargers and two with the Bills from 2005 to 2012.

Dorian Glenn, Hamlin’s uncle, told the NFL Network that the Bills player remained in intensive care but has improved to 50% oxygen on a ventilator – he had previously been on 100%.

Right now, they got him on a ventilator, so they’re trying to get him to breathe on his own,” Glenn told the network. “So, we’re just kind of taking it day by day. Still in the ICU. They have him sedated, so just continue to administer the medical treatment that they’ve been doing.”

Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin, #3, warms up prior to the game against the Buffalo Bills and the Cincinnati Bengals on January 2, 2023, at Paycor Stadium in Cincinnati.

Glenn added, “Once he gets out of ICU, I’ll feel better myself.”

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