Return to Transcripts main page

CNN Tonight

Buffalo Bills Player Damar Hamlin Collapses On Field Mid-Game, Game Temporarily Suspended; Buffalo Bills Safety Damar Hamlin Collapses After Hard Hit, Given CPR On The Field, In Critical Condition; Damar Hamlin In Serious Condition; Fair To Cancel NFL Game. Aired 10-11p ET

Aired January 02, 2023 - 22:00   ET




LAURA COATES, CNN ANCHOR: Everyone, there's so much going on tonight, but we have to begin with shocking breaking news, what appears to be a very, very serious injury in tonight's Monday night football game between the Buffalo Bills and the Cincinnati Bengals. The Bills' safety, Damar Hamlin, collapsed on the field after making a tackle in the first quarter of the game.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- one game as well.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Here is Higgins wide open to mid and lowers the shoulder for 13.

This is where Joe Burrow is so good.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But now another Bills player is down.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We can't tell exactly who that is, maybe Hamlin.

Jordan Poyer was able to go --


COATES: It was indeed Hamlin. It was number three on the bills. When you're watching it, he appeared to stand up for a moment before collapsing. It is incredibly disturbing to watch what has happened.

We don't yet have all the information on his current condition but we do know that an ambulance was brought on to the field. And according to the ESPN broadcast, Hamlin received CPR on the field before being driven out of the stadium in that ambulance.

Bob Costas joins us now on the phone. Bob, so scary to see that, to watch consecutive breaks from the game, players, on the field, huddling together, crying. We don't know all that is happening or what has caused the injury exactly, or what the nature of it is, but have you ever seen anything like this tonight? BOB COSTAS, CNN CONTRIBUTOR (voice over): Well, there have been circumstances in the past, Darryl Stingley, a receiver for the Patriots, was paralyzed from the neck down after a hit in the game against the Raiders in the 1970s. There have been players who collapsed on the field because of cardiac difficulties. A player named Chuck Hughes with the Detroit Lions, back in the 70s died on the field, J.V. Cain, who was the receiver for the then-St. Louis Cardinals now play in Arizona, a similar thing during training camp, but nothing exactly like this.

The play did not look that out of the ordinary. People might think if they weren't watching the game that there was some sort of helmet-to- helmet contact. The young man, Damar Hamlin made the tackle. Tee Higgins, the receiver for the Bengals, actually hits him in the chest. Nothing dirty about the play, according to the rules. This kind of contact happens all the time in football. But Hamlin, actually, although he made the tackle, took the brunt of the collision squarely in his chest.

You wouldn't think, if you watch a lot of football, that there was anything that unusual about that. But he got up, took a couple of steps, wobbled, and fell backwards. As you said a moment ago, Laura, they came out on the field, they administer CPR. You could tell by the expressions on the faces of players from both teams, his Bills teammates, and the opponents on the Bengals, that something very serious had happened here. And they have suspended the game, and from all indications, this game is not could be played tonight.

They had shots of some of the players and the tunnel leading to locker room, they'd already taken their uniforms off, some of them walking around in skivvies. And the Bills being the visiting team, they'll have to travel back if they don't play the game tomorrow, for example, in Cincinnati. And it looked at the Bills equipment people were loading up some of the equipment, as if there would be no more football played tonight because we don't know what the outcome of this is going to be. It could very well be.

Well, you don't been an alarmist. I'm certainly not going to speculate with such sketchy information, but it could very well be that the young man's life is in the balance. So, nobody has any appetite to play football after what they saw happen on the field tonight.

COATES: Bob, just telling what has happened in the past, and we've seen the nature of the injuries you've even described in the horrific trauma that has occurred to the bodies of so many people, football is a sport that people have been following for quite some time, talking about the dangers. Normally, the conversations have been around, even this year alone, they've been around for what the rules are for a player to return, how many games to be out, the idea of a team now opting in deciding whether they will return to play.


You are right, I cannot imagine having the wherewithal, having the appetite, having the desire to be able to play in a game at this important time, especially not knowing really what has happened to this young man.

In terms of why there is such a focus on this game tonight, I mean, we are approaching the critical juncture, in terms of football, approaching playoff season and beyond, but the idea that that would be something prioritized over the health and life of a player should be not done.

COSTAS (voice over): Yes, and I think no one is suggesting that. The broadcasters, Gerald Buck and Troy Aikman and Susie Kolber and company who were in the studio for ESPN, they've handle this in a very sensitive and appropriate way. They haven't speculated because you can't possibly do it.

Is it possible, possible, that the young man had some kind of pre- existing condition, which was unknown and this contact could have trigger that? This was not the sort of collision that automatically, in and of itself, causes concern. But when he got up for a moment and then collapsed, it was clear that something significant had happened. And then when the ambulance came out on the field, and you saw the stricken expressions on the faces of players from both teams, this was something very much out of the ordinary.

And what you alluded to earlier, Laura, most of the focus has been, and rightly, on concussions and the ongoing issue of CTE in football, both professional and amateur football. It doesn't appear that this falls into that category. But the young man is at the hospital right now. We understand that his mother, at least -- I don't know if his dad was there, but his mother, at least, was at the game, and she went in the ambulance with him to the hospital. And that's about all we know now.

COATES: And, Bob, we are learning right now that the game has officially now been postponed. In fact, there had been some footage earlier before the game. Remember, this just happened in the first quarter, everyone. This is the first quarter of play. And there was photos of him greeting his family members before the game, embracing them, taking selfies, hugging. This is, I think, a 24-year-old man, young man, who was only drafted in 2021, so a very, very new player to the professional leagues.

But I want to bring in for a second -- please stay on the line, Bob. We need to talk to you soon. But I want to bring in CNN Medical Analyst Dr. Jonathan Reiner. Dr. Reiner, I'm so glad that you are talking to us today, because when you are looking at this and you are seeing what transpired. And we're all, I mean, myself, a layman, is looking at this as a fan of football and watching an injury transpire, not quite understanding what could have caused somebody to stand began and then collapse and have CPR administered.

Do you have any insight when you saw this played? What was your instinct telling you?

DR. JONATHAN REINER, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: Yes, hi, Laura. First of all, my thoughts are with Damar Hamlin. This is a life-threatening event. Almost certainly what happened to Mr. Hamlin is something called commotio cordis, which is basically a cardiac arrest caused by a sharp blow to the chest at precisely the wrong moments.

The heart is governed by electrical impulses. And if the hearts is struck at basically the wrong millisecond in the usual cycle of these electrical impulses, it can cause a catastrophic arrhythmia called ventricular fibrillation. And that would take about six seconds for the person to pass out.

And when you look at the tape, Mr. Hamlin made the tackle. He got hit in the chest. He got it right over the heart. Let's start at the chest. That was the blow. He got up one or two seconds later, and one or two seconds later, he collapsed. And that's how long it takes for your to pass out after your heart fibrillates.

COATES: But what does that mean, ventricular -- unpack that term for us, ventricular fibrillation. What does that mean?

REINER: Right. So, the heart beats in a coordinated fashion. When the heart fibrillates, when the ventricle, the big thick pumping chamber of the heart, fibrillates, instead of squeezing rhythmically and hard, it quivers. And when the heart muscle quivers, it can't pump blood. And when it can't pump blood, the blood pressure drops to zero, and that takes about six seconds. And that is almost exactly a timeframe for Mr. Hamlin to go down again. And that can be resuscitated.

COATES: How long would you need to -- okay, that's where I was going next in terms of what you could do in that moment, the idea that quivering but not having that full beat to be able to pump the blood through different arteries and get blood circulated throughout the entire body, let alone to the brain.


How long do you have to try to course correct?

REINER: The way to resuscitate a person that has this event is you need to defibrillate them with an AED, with an automatic external defibrillator. And until one is provided, until one is made available, and every NFL stadium has several of these devices, there's almost certainly one on the field level of every NFL stadium, one would do CPR. And CPR basically gives you the time to defibrillate a patient. But the clock is ticking.

And every minute the chance of resuscitating somebody with a cardiac arrest either from this event, what are called commotio cordis or from a heart attack-induced event like this, every minute in delays to defibrillation reduces the likelihood of survival by about 10 percent. So, time is of the essence.

Now, you can lengthen that time a bit with affective CPR. But the only way to reverse this is with defibrillation. To me, it seems pretty clear that that is very likely what happened to Mr. Hamilt.

COATES: Bob, I want to bring you back in. Just hearing from Dr. Reiner and the expertise that he brings and just watching, as you mentioned when we were speaking earlier, about this wasn't something that people were hearing about this as a helmet-to-helmet contact or what you're accustomed to seeing in terms of the form a concussion and beyond, the idea of this arrhythmia, this millisecond that would disrupt the electrical impulses and what would happened, I mean, do you have a sense of how long Damar Hamlin was on that field? The doctor is talking about every minute reduces a 10 percent reduction in one's ability for it to survive.

COSTAS (voice over): I don't have an exact timeline and I wouldn't want to put something out there that would be irresponsible. I'd actually begun watching the game casually and then I turned away from it and I got a text saying something has happened, and I came back to it. But by that point, he was down on the field and the ambulance had already arrived. So, I can't give you an estimate between how long, how much time expired between the administering of CPR and when they might have been able to defibrillate him. But as Dr. Reiner has said, every NFL stadium has that medical capacity on hand.

So, there is little doubt that he was defibrillated, however, we don't know what the outcome of it is. But they have all the necessary medical expertise there but every situation is different and we'll just have to see how this one turns out.

COATES: Thank you. So much more, we're going to see here on this story. It's so important. And I would note that we knew that the commission of the NFL, Roger Goodell, had been contacted with the game officials and also the different teams trying to assess what happened. We do now know they have decided to postpone and stop this game. It had already been in a postponed state, suspended since the first quarter when both teams decided to go back to the locker rooms after watching one of their teammates, the Buffalo Bills safety, Damar Hamlin, collapsing on the field tonight in the first quarter of that Bills game against Cincinnati Bengals. CPR was administered on the field. The young man was taken away in an ambulance.

Stay with us, we're going to follow this story.



COATES: Back to our breaking news tonight. It seems to be a terrible injury that happened tonight on the field during Monday night football. The Buffalo Bills safety, Damar Hamlin, collapsed on the field today in the first quarter of the game against the Cincinnati Bengals. They administered CPR on the field and Hamlin was taken away in an ambulance. The NFL says that he was transported to a local hospital where he is now in critical condition. The game has been postponed.

I want to bring in CNN Sports Anchor Coy Wire, also here, CNN Sports Analyst Christine Brennan and former NFL Player Donte Stallworth. And still with us is CNN Contributor Bob Costas. He's still with me.

Let me begin with you, Dante, on this, because you were actually watching this game live and you saw this play happen. And you initially thought it was just a routine hit, nothing to worry about until you saw him fall. What went through your mind? DONTE STALLWORTH, FORMER NFL PLAYER: Well, it was a routine play. It was a catch and tackle and players both jumped up. And I'm always watching the players after the play because I like a little trash talk, and that's what kind of what I was expecting from both players. When I saw Damar fall back to the ground after standing up for a couple seconds, I just knew that it was something wrong.

And after they delayed for a while and he was lying down on the ground, and then you heard the announcers say that they were administering CPR, that's when it became concerned. Because I -- more concerned, because I knew that -- I played in the NFL for ten years, coached, and I've never seen anything like that before in my life on any level, high school, college or pro.

COATES: You've never seen CPR administered on the field?

STALLWORTH: Never, practice or during the rigorous practices in the summer heat or during the NFL games where there are a lot of season- ending injuries. I have never seen anyone have CPR administered to them on the practice field or the game field. So, that's when I became more concerned. And I saw the players' faces. I mean, half the players were crying, but on the Bengals and the Bills. And to see their faces, it just underscored the severity of it that we really couldn't see because they were all crowded around. It was just devastating and I just pray that he is okay.

COATES: We all do. To see what happened and to watch them, I remember, earlier before the game, there were images of him talking with his mother who was in the stadium as well, hugging her, embracing her, his members of his family as well.

Coy Wire, let me bring you into this as well, because I am curious as to what you are feeling and reacting to tonight. You also have watched this transpire. You have been on these fields. You have watched injuries after injuries. You've seen the spectrum of what can happen. The focus has necessarily been on so many times CTE and concussions. But to watch young man standup as he did, drop back down to the ground and have the players stunned in the way they were, what was going through your mind?


COY WIRE, CNN SPORTS ANCHOR: Nausea was going to my gut. My heart is still racing. It hits home for me. I played six of my seasons in Buffalo as a safety, in the same position as Damar. I have a titanium plate and four screws in my neck. I was knocked unconscious several times. One, I didn't remember what happened until the next day. My teammate at Buffalo, Kevin Everett, we were covering together. He was paralyzed.

The ambulance came on the field, players crying, same sort of scene in college when I was playing for Stanford. Our running back made a collision with Curtis Williams of the University of Washington. He was paralyzed from the neck down. Two years later, he passed away.

The scenes are haunting. The thing I think we need to take away from this is one that's a reminder of how precious life is. Two, it is a reminder that there is progress being made. All the talks about safety, players' safety, all the lives that have been lost, all the lives that have been altered from players who have played this game, perhaps they are not in vain. Because you know what, Laura, a year ago, five years ago, certainly not ten years ago, they would not of stop the game.

Donte will tell you the ambulance would come out, take you off the field, take some smelling salts, and you say, buckle up, let's go, next snap mentality. That's what the players have, that's what the coaches have, that's what the league always had, disposable players, you put them in a next man up mentality, right? We are not seeing that right now.

So, if there's something positive that can come from this, the ultimate positive is obvious, the more Hamlin is going to be healthy, safe again. But it is also that players' safety are personal health is now more important than it used to be. And that is a trickledown effect. That is going to be important to the college level.

That is going to be specifically important to the high school and to the youth levels, where these coaches, they can't just throw the kids out there and tell them, toughen up, get out there, buckle up, let's go, we are understanding this is a different world that we are living in now because there's been a paradigm shift in terms of player health and safety and how precious our lives are and that the game is not worth it in the end when it comes to serious issues like this.

I would like to just say, hopefully, we can get some collective thoughts and prayers together for Damar Hamlin because that can be powerful. You saw the players doing it immediately when they saw how drastic the situation was. He is in critical condition. That has been last word. But we hope that he can make a full and speedy recovery.

COATES: I can't help but just sitting here, and it is palpable. You are far from me right now, Coy. Donte, you are close to me at this table. But it is palpable, the trauma. It is palpable, the emotions. The idea of what we have seen today, just hearing you talk about that this game might not have been stopped before.

I remember as a younger person, of course, watching and waiting for the person to the thumbs up as they are taken away on the field, and the idea, as you said, the next play mentality and what has changed.

I want to bring in CNN Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta. Dr. Gupta, in times like this, Sanjay, when you hear about the progress, so to speak, that's made on the medical front to try to make this game safer, and yet we hear, just this season alone, the idea of quarterbacks having concussions, the idea of people who are injured, tragically, hearing Coy, hearing Donte, hearing Bob, hearing so many people talk about what can happen, I am really eager to hear your perspective in terms of is there a way to make it safe? I mean, is this a fluke? Dr. Reiner, you may have heard him earlier speaking about that if this is commotio cordis -- I think he called Cortez, and you have to correct with my pronunciation, about a millisecond disruption of electrical impulses, that could change alter the ability of the heart to fibrillate -- go ahead, I can't even get the words out right -- have actually quiver as supposed to actually pulsing. Tell me what this means to you.

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think to your first question, Laura, about the safety overall, I mean, this is something that I've talked a lot about with Coy and with Bob Costas and others, I mean, I think it's possible to make the game safer but it's tough to make it safe, I mean, completely safe. It can be a violent, brutal game.

I think so much of the attention has been focused -- I'm a brain surgeon. I'm a brain guy. So much of the attention is focused on brain injuries and chronic traumatic encephalopathy, CTE, that does not appear to be what happened here tonight. And what Dr. Reiner was talking about, and I've spoken to other sports doctors tonight, I mean, the idea that a blunt force trauma, which is what it is, it is trauma, to the chest.


Yes, in the chest, you have heart, you have the lungs. That sort of blunt force trauma, this is a rare situation, maybe it happens a few -- a couple of dozen times a year, maybe, but if that sort of trauma is delivered to the chest at just the right time, it can essentially put someone into a very abnormal heart rhythm, subsequently leading to cardiac arrest, where the heart isn't beating or isn't beating efficiently enough to pump blood through the body. That may have been what happened here.

We are all speculating at this point but we'll obviously get some more details later on. But whatever the cause was, the team then assessed that he was in cardiac arrest, and they started doing CPR, which is essentially this idea that there is enough oxygenated blood in the body for a period of time. The goal is to move that oxygenated blood throughout the body so you can continue to deliver oxygenated blood to the organs of the body.

The other thing that we don't know if they did at the time, or subsequently, is to try and restart the heart by delivering a shock. That is defibrillator that you are talking about, Laura. And they have defibrillators -- clearly, they would have a defibrillator on the ambulance. They typically have defibrillators in large venues of all sorts, including stadiums. We couldn't see when and where that may have been used. But if that was used, that can be something that can be used to sort of restart the heart.

But as you mentioned, and I think I guess Dr. Reiner mentioned earlier, time is crucial here. I don't know how many minutes precisely he was on the field before he'd been taken away in the ambulance, but every minute does count. Because you want to make sure oxygenated blood can be coursing through the body and that you can restart the heart as quickly as possible.

That seems to be what happened here in terms of this being a primary cardiac heart-related event as opposed to something in the brain or the spinal cord. He did stand up for a few seconds before he fell back down. So, that gives the idea of a spinal cord or brain injury less likely, although not completely ruled out, and, obviously, a lot of focus on the heart.

COATES: Everyone stick around. Christine, Bob, I have not forgotten about you. I am going to come to you as well. I want to stay on this story. We will have more in a moment on our breaking news tonight. Buffalo Bills, Cincinnati Bengals game has now been postponed after the Bills' Damar Hamlin collapsed on the field. He was transported to a local hospital where he is in a critical condition.



COATES: We've got more in our breaking news tonight, and it is so shocking to see. If you have seen the footage that has been played of Damar Hamlin collapsing during tonight's Buffalo Bills Cincinnati Bengals game. It has been postponed after he collapsed on the field after a hard hit. He was transported to a local hospital where he is in critical condition.

Now, I want to walk through the timeline with you. According to ESPN, the broadcaster of Monday night football's game 8.55 p.m. Eastern the injury occurs. Then at 9.18 p.m. the game is temporarily suspended, 9.25 p.m. the ambulance leaves the stadium, 10.01 the game is officially postponed.

And I will say from our own reporting, we are aware that the team trainers were to him on the field within 10 seconds of that collapse and the ambulance there within five minutes to then transport him.

We'll look at the timeline as it's laid out here about the 24-year-old 2021 draft pick sixth round. Just 24 years old now listed in critical condition.

Back with me now, Bob Costas and Christine Brennan. You know, Christine, I want to bring you in here. Because this is just devastating to look at, to see what has happened. I mean, you have been reporting about this sport and so many others for a long time and have seen the injuries that's take place on the field.

But tonight, to see what we're seeing tonight and to see the reaction of these players. What are you thinking?

CHRISTINE BRENNAN, CNN SPORTS ANALYST: Laura, this is just heartbreaking of course. And it's so troubling and it's -- it's just terrible. I mean, the words are those are the words. This is a sporting event that became anything but a sporting event.

And I am so glad of course, that the game was canceled or postponed because there's just no way, absolutely no way to play a football game after that happened. And of course, before we know, knew, and we still do not know, how he is. Hopefully he will be OK. Hopefully he will survive critical condition.

There's not a football player on either team or anyone in the league or any of us for that matter as human beings that would ever be able to continue on after something like this.

You know, I also think that the conversation with Dante and Coy, they played the game. Bob and I have reported on it and commentated and been around football for my entire career, for decades, since the 80s.

It's a violent game. And we fans, how many fans have we heard we've all been at games or heard people cheering, you know, kill them or hurt him or, you know, get him. Americans love that. We love that. We want that.

Obviously, the NFL is our national pastime. It's the most popular sport by far in our country in terms of TV ratings and just interest in general. So, America is this -- is this what we will continue to want? I guess it's not an either or, Laura, but if you love the hitting and if you love the violence and so many millions of people do, my goodness, look at where we are right now.


And maybe this is that moment to step back and say, what are we doing here? But I'm certainly not a Pollyanna to think that football is going to stop. And it is safer, as Coy was saying, than it's been before, but it is still an incredibly violent game.

And I'm reminded of 1971, a man named Chuck Hughes, Laura, died on the field, Detroit Lions against the Chicago Bears at Tiger Stadium in Detroit. And that is the only death on the field in the NFL.


BRENNAN: Chuck Hughes, 1971, the game went on. I looked this up. The game went on. They kept playing that game and the fans said at Tiger Stadium in stun -- stunned silence.

So, thankfully, of course we don't know yet about Damar's condition. We certainly hope he will be OK. Thankfully this game was stopped and thankfully we have learned some lessons, even as we do love this incredibly violent and difficult tough game.

COATES: Bob, I want to bring you in here to talk about what we've seen and you know, I hate to just be talking around this person because he is somebody's. He is a human being. He's more than a player. He is somebody we are focusing on tonight based on what has happened to him.

But I don't want to just conceptually talk about football. I mean, this is somebody who grew up in McKees Rocks, Pennsylvania, went to Pittsburgh for college, was named a class four A defensive player of the year, has been in the league for two years, just 24 years old.

I remember seeing earlier today him greeting some of his members of his family today who were at the stadium. I think you also mentioned, Bob, I believe his mother may have ridden in the ambulance with him. As a mother myself, thinking about how I don't want, I'll be honest with you, I don't want my son to play football for the reasons that Christine has spoken about. I know that that is probably an unpopular position to have, but it's one that this mama bear has. And thinking about what she must be going through or any of the teammates and everyone else on the field.

I do want to hone in with your expertise on this point though, Bob. Coy mentioned, and Donte as well, the idea that, look, a couple years ago, maybe even five, maybe 10, like maybe even more. They wouldn't have stopped the game. They would've kept on going. As Christine mentioned, someone dying on the field in the 70s and the game went on. The idea of the next play mentality.

What have been the changes that have pushed the needle forward to make this a more conscientious response that we're seeing tonight?

BOB COSTAS, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, as doctors, Reiner and Gupta made clear, their educated opinion is a very educated, it isn't even a guess. It appears apparent to them that this is some sort of cardiac event, which was triggered by a blow to the chest as Hamlin made the tackle and collided with T. Higgins.

Most of the focus of what we've been talking about concerning the nature of football has been on CTE, chronic traumatic encephalopathy, and the inherent danger of concussions and even sub-concussive hits over a long period of time. And the rather substantial percentage of players who report some sort of neurological or cognitive difficulty at some point down the line, often in early middle age, or even sooner in some cases.

Some of the most famous players in football history have reported that, with early onset dementia and whatnot as a result of having played football. It took a long time for the obvious to be recognized. If fighters could be so-called punch drunk from blows to the head, well, why wouldn't football players who take blows to the head, even though they're wearing helmets, take repeated blows to the head?

But this particular situation doesn't fall into that category. Football is a violent game and what happened tonight falls under the broad category of that violence. But something like what happened to Damar Hamlin is not nearly as chronic a situation as by percentage as frequent a circumstance as CTE is, not even close.

That doesn't lessen the severity of it. And what all of us are feeling having watched something so terrible unfold and fingers crossed that he survives, and is able to carry on with his life, if not his football career.

But just as a matter of fact, this may fall under the broad heading of the violent nature of football, which I am not here to justify. People may understand that for many, many years as prominently as I could on Sunday night football, I pointed out the inherent dangers of football --


[22:39:57] COSTAS: -- and the ambivalence that I felt about the game, and eventually I stepped away from it because of that. I don't think that this is going to cause people to say I'm not a football fan anymore. The game is too big, it's too profitable, it's too popular. And too many players, including players on the Bills and Bengals who witnessed firsthand what happened tonight, are still going to want to continue their careers.

Where we are, however, is at a place of greater understanding of risks and rewards. A generation or two ago, CTE was soft pedaled. Players now know what they're getting into and they can make informed decisions about it.

COATES: Bob, I remember your comments on the -- on the sidelines and thinking about and the commentary and you are right to talk about what umbrella this will all fall under and within, and what type of epiphanies or confirmation people may have. In any event, you are more than correct. We do not yet know what has happened to this young man.

We have watched something happen on the field Damar Hamlin collapsing after a hard hit. Given CPR on the field. Presently hospitalized in critical condition. The trainers able to get to him within 10 seconds. The ambulance within five minutes.

Our experts in their opinions are talking about the idea of what may have happened if there was a millisecond. A millisecond that would've caused the arrhythmia to disrupt the ability of the heart to beat and what could actually transpire then.

We're going to bring you everything we have. We've got much more to come on our breaking news. A terrible on the field injury on Monday night football tonight. This young man, the Buffalo Bills Damar Hamlin injured and collapsing on the field, transported to a local hospital. He is right now a 24 years old in critical condition.

The Bills are tweeting tonight that, quote, "the thoughts and prayers of all of Bills mafia are supporting you, Damar."



COATES: Back to our breaking news tonight. A terrible on the field injury and Monday night football. The Buffalo Bills Damar Hamlin collapsing after a hard hit in the game again to Cincinnati Bengals.

You're watching it right now. He's the number three. He makes a tackle. He stands up for just a moment before collapsing back to the ground. He was transported to a local hospital where he is now in critical condition.

The Bengals tweeting, sending our thoughts and prayers to Damar.

Joining me, NFL analyst and former linebacker, Emmanuel Acho and Donte Stallworth is also back with us. Now we begin with you, Emmanuel, because just looking to see what has

happened here. The reactions has been swift. We saw what happened on the field. The players themselves stunned watching this heartbroken, wondering what has happened to the 24-year-old player collapsing on the field. What is your reaction, Emmanuel?

EMMANUEL ACHO, FORMER NFL PLAYER: There are no words, but I will try to muster some up. I believe that we've never seen anything like this before. I've never seen anything like this before. Laura, I have seen players get knocked out on the football field, but this felt different. This felt different from my couch.

He's a six-round pick, Damar is. I was a six-round pick. He's used to fighting for a roster spot, fighting to keep the Buffalo Bills the top, the AFC not fighting for his life. And I think all of us right now have to remember the human, a graduate from Pitt earned his degree in communications. The player that he is, his second year, the person that he is a son.

The leader that he is. The teammate. And here he is fighting for his life. Laura, there truly has never been anything like this that I've seen in pro sports. For the television to cut to five different commercial breaks as we all await, desperately await a response. It was jarring, it was gut-wrenching.

But I'm reminded at this time, let's stay optimistic and let's continue to pray for the person, not just (Inaudible).

COATES: A very important point to underscore. And Donte, I wonder from your perspective just watching this, what's going through the minds of the players who are on there, the other human beings, the other sons, the other brothers and fathers, and who are on that field tonight? What is going through their minds?

DONTE STALLWORTH, FORMER NFL WIDE RECEIVER: Well, just like Emmanuel said, you know, it felt different from the couch and the longer he was down there, the more and more concerned you became. The players, especially when you saw the player's reaction because we couldn't necessarily see him or we couldn't see what was going on with him.

We just saw a crowd of players, kind of huddled around and concerned about Damar's situation. And you know, I just -- I just go back to when the announcer -- when the announcers began to talk about the trainers were giving him CPR, that CPR was being administered.

That's something that I just immediately, I just gasped and began to -- began to become more and more concerned that I had never seen that before on any level of football, not in practice, not on the game field. And to see that happening, to see players from both sides, both teams, to see players crying in tears, grown men crying in tears to what was going on before their eyes to one of their own brothers.


COATES: Yes. STALLWORTH: We compete against each other like hell. We work -- we work against each other out. We cuss each other out. We yell at each other. But at the end of the day, we all understand this is a brotherhood. We we're all -- we're all working hard to compete and to play our butts off. This has always been for most guys. I'd say 99 percent of the guys it's been our childhood dream.

And to see that, to see that moment, just from my couch personally, and to see the players, to see their reaction, the guys that are right there on the field, it was heartbreaking.

COATES: Well, I wonder -- before we -- I have to go a break, but are either of you surprised? Emmanuel, are you surprised that they postponed the game? Did that, just given the state of play and sometimes the way that frankly, leagues across a variety of sports can be dismissive of the lives of some players, did it surprise you that there was that action taken?

ACHO: It did not. They had no other choice but to postpone the game. For once, Laura, hyperbole became reality. Typically, before a game, we talk about going to war. We talk about dying for the man to your right or to your left, going in the bunker with your brothers, living out a dream, fighting against the opponent.

You might have to lay your life on the line for this. But, Laura, if I'm being honest, that's usually just hyperbole. That's just figures of speech that we use, rah, rah, to get each other fired up. But in this moment when hyperbole has become reality and Damar is truly fighting for his life that he laid down on that field in front of tens of millions, there was no other option but to suspend the game. And the NFL made the right decision.

COATES: Gentlemen, stay around. We have more in a moment on our breaking news. Tonight's Buffalo Bill Cincinnati Bengals game has indeed been postponed because the Bills Damar Hamlin, 24 years old, collapsed on the field after a hard hit. He was transported to a local hospital where he is in critical condition.

He's being treated where you're looking right now.



COATES: Our breaking news tonight, what appears to be a terrible injury on the field during tonight's Monday night football game. Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin collapsing on the field in the first quarter of the Bills game against Cincinnati Bengals.

CPR was administered on the field, and the 24-year-old was taken away in an ambulance. The NFL says he was transported to a local hospital where he is now in critical condition. The game understandably, of course, has been postponed.

A lot more on this breaking story in just a moment. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)