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Buffalo Bills Safety Damar Hamlin Collapsed On The Field And In Critical Condition. Aired 11p-12a ET

Aired January 02, 2023 - 23:00   ET




LAURA COATES, CNN HOST AND SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Our breaking news, what happened tonight on the field during Monday night football? Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin in critical condition after collapsing. He is number three on the Buffalo Bills.

He was hit during the first quarter of tonight's game between the Bills and the Cincinnati Bengals. That's according to the NFL. That he fell on his back just moments after getting up from an open field tackle of Bengals' wide receiver, Tee Higgins. The Buffalo Bills team trainers got to him within 10 seconds after he collapsed. An ambulance was brought on to the field, and he was even administered CPR.

I want to go back to CNN's chief medical correspondent Sanjay Gupta, CNN contributor Bob Costas, and NFL analyst and former NFL linebacker Emmanuel Acho.

Doctor Gupta Sanjay, just thinking about what has happened here tonight. And there is a lot of uncertainty. We don't have all of the answers, obviously. He is in critical condition. We have seen what happened. There was the collapse and getting back up for a moment, of course, before he actually collapsed after that tackle was made.

Do you have any insight into what could have transpired here? Do you think this was a cardiac, obviously, cardiac issue? What could have prompted it?

SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it really does seem like a cardiac issue, a heart issue primarily. It's -- we are speculating, Laura, at this point. And it's tough to watch that, what transpired on the field there.

But a couple of things to just point out. As you said, he stood up for a minute or a few seconds at least before he collapsed. I think one of the things that people always think about with football and -- is brain or spinal cord injury. That doesn't seem as likely the case given that he did stand up at least for a period of time before he collapsed.

There is a condition known as commotio cordis, which is basically something that occurs from a strong blow to the chest at a particular time in the heartbeat. And if it happens, it can essentially throw the heart into this very dangerous arrythmia.


GUPTA: The heart is always conducting electricity. That's how the heart chambers beat. If that -- if that blow happens at the right time or at the wrong time, it can actually cause the heart to go into this abnormal rhythm, leading to cardiac arrest.

It is rare, Laura. You don't see this very often at all. In fact, a lot of time, it -- when you do hear about it, it's typically in sports like baseball where you have a fast ball or something that hit somebody in the chest, something small that hit somebody in the chest at that exact precise time to cause this sort of problem.

But, again, I just want to be clear. We don't know. What we do know is that he was requiring CPR for several minutes on the field. So, he was assessed very quickly, it sounds like within 10 seconds of his collapse. They determined that his heart was either not beating or it was in abnormal rhythm, and they began CPR.

The goal at that point is to try and see if you can restore the heart's normal rhythm. And typically, that is done with something known as a defibrillator, an AED, automated external defibrillator. We don't know if that was used on the field. Clearly, in football stadiums, large venues of that size, they have them. There was an ambulance close by. So, that would have an AED. That would be critically important to try and restart the heart.

COATES: But Sanjay --

GUPTA: And then, I just look at the timeline --

COATES: -- walk me through. Sorry. Walk me through what would happen from -- I mean, behind the scenes.


You have been in many ERs, you've been in many ORs trying to assess what happens from the -- on the field, one of the cursory inspections, trying to figure out what is going on to get the lay of the land, to the point that you're in the ambulance and now at the hospital. Is there a battery of tests that is being run? Is it something that you're trying to -- what is that scan like in a greater detail to figure out and assess what could have happened here?

GUPTA: Yeah. Well, I will just say that those first few minutes are really critical. So, you're right, it's not the ambulance or the hospital being on the field, but you have to be acting in those first few minutes to try and move the oxygenated blood through the body and/or defibrillate, you know, to restart the heart.

But what is likely happening now is that they are determining, you know, trying to get an idea of exactly what the status of his heart is at this point. Most likely he is on a breathing machine because you're giving medicines that, you know, you are trying to improve the heart's function are doing things to restart the heart. What we've last heard was that he was in critical condition, which means that he has vital signs, he has a heartbeat, but they are not within normal -- their normal range. So, right now, it sounds like what they would be doing in the hospital is trying to stabilize him. You can become in critical but stable condition. And that would be sort of the next goal.

Ultimately, you would like him to come into stable condition, meaning that all the vital signs come back to within normal limits, and ultimately be at a point where he's doing all those things on his own, not requiring a breathing machine, not requiring medicines to allow his heart to function normally.

I don't want to minimize this, Laura. If you've been undergoing CPR for that length of time -- I mean, it's obviously a serious concern, a serious issue. When the heart is not beating well or not beating, all the organs are not getting enough blood flow for a period of time.

So, they're going to want to assess the sort of impact of that decreased blood flow he has had on the rest of the organs. That's probably what's going to be happening in the hospital tonight and, you know, for the next period of time.

COATES: Including the brain. I mean, I often think about -- we always hear about the stories of if blood is not pumping in an efficient manner trying to be able to get that oxygenated blood to the brain as well -- I mean, thank you for explaining where we are with that. It's unbelievable to think about this.

Emmanuel, I want to go to you here because -- I mean, just thinking about it, you remind us and, of course, it is worth and bears repeating, that we're talking about a human being on this field who happens to be a football player, who has been injured in some manner that led to his collapse. And now, he's in the critical condition that Sanjay Gupta has described to us.

Talk to me about your experience as an athlete and as a player and having witnessed injuries on the field before, obviously, unlike this. But what is the mentality? What is going through your mind at a time like this? And do you feel as though the players, by making it the decision, obviously, collectively not to return, is this a paradigm shift in the way that the sport has changed?

EMMANUEL ACHO, FORMER NFL LINEBACKER: The players are in shock right now. I was re-watching an old clip from when I saw a teammate of mine get carted to a locker room, I look at the teammate, I looked at the sideline, I look back at the teammate, and I did not know what to do.

My teammate, former teammate, he ended up being okay. I prayed for him as well.

The players are in absolute shock. You can't play after something like this because you're so concerned about your brother, you're so concerned about your friend, you're so concerned about your colleague.

But, really, Laura, I am thinking of this. The NFL, which owns one day of the week, two nights of the week, if you will, has never felt smaller. Right now, everyone is focused on Danar Hamlin's health, his well-being. Again, this is a son, this is a friend, this is a brother, this is a 24-year-old young man who is fighting to stay on a team.

The Buffalo Bills are trying to stay on top of their conference. They are favored to go to the Super Bowl. Damar Hamlin is just trying to fight to keep his team afloat. He was not intending to go into this game and fight for his life.

And so, if you really humanize all of this, this is something that none of these players have likely ever experienced before, and hopefully, none of these players will ever have to experience again.

COATES: And Emmanuel, I should mention, while you are speaking as well, we were seeing from outside of the hospital Bengals fans who were having a bit of a vigil, a candlelight vigil, standing outside of that hospital facility in support of the Bills' player, recognizing what has happened on that field, the shock and the stunning nature of all that has transpired.


And you mentioned as well about him being a six-round draft pick. He actually became a starter, I believe, this season after another player sustained a neck injury, as well speaking about the wherewithal, the charisma, the intent to be able to perform at this level, and it's just to think about where we are right now, unbelievable.

I want to bring you in to this conversation, Bob Costas, because we're learning more information. We don't have all the answers still. There's a lot of conversation, sort of esoterically about sports in general, football and violence, and what is taking place.

But in terms of where we are right now as well -- I mean, just walk us through a little bit about the significance of all of this happening right now. This has been a season where we got a number of injuries that have taken place. There -- a legend was lost just about a week ago out of the Pittsburgh Steelers abruptly. You have a quarterback at one point being concussed and having conversation about whether to return to play.

The idea of, more broadly, legends and what happens on the field always discussed. What's happening right now, a different type of legendary event. Tell me what you're thinking?

BOB COSTAS, CNN CONTRIBUTOR (via telephone): Well, as I said in the last hour, Laura, each of these things, as the ones you mentioned, fall into a different category. I am not aware that there may have been an autopsy performed and the result state my attention regarding Franco Harris. But this was a 72 or 73-year-old man who died in his sleep.

The situation with Hamlin, as we said in the last hour and as our medical experts have indicated, is almost certainly the result of a blow to just the wrong part of the chest at just the wrong millisecond which caused an arrythmia and a cardiac event. That's separate from CTE, which is much more common in football at both the professional and amateur levels.

I'm the furthest thing from an apologist for football. It is a violent game. Violent by its nature. But this particular -- and you can only make it safer. You could never make it safe. I've said that many, many times.

But as Dr. Gupta said only a few moments ago, the particular circumstance that triggered this event with Hamlin can also happen in baseball. A line drive back to the mound, it's the pitcher in the chest at just the wrong moment, at just the wrong spot on the chest, but very same thing could happen.

So, in that sense, it is not unique to football. Is it like common sense more likely in the game whether it's violent contact on almost every play? Yes, it is more likely, but it is not unique to football.

COATES: Dr. Gupta, on that point, there is a thing that obviously stands out. When we're talking about baseball versus football in particular, I think about padding, initially, right? The idea of --

GUPTA: Yeah.

COATES: And you've seen sometimes we got a player who is up at the plate and they may have a shoulder -- sort of a protective gear on one side. It only indicates that they've likely been hit before in that area. They are aware of what that felt like and they're wearing something from here over to cover themselves. The padding might be distinctive.

But I still wonder, this -- it sounds like what you described and, again, to be very clear, we are opining until we hear --

GUPTA: Yeah.

COATES: -- from these doctors about what has happened to this particular person. But what it's described, it seems like a blunt force trauma, more broadly, that could happen in a variety of environment, not just in a sporting event. Is that right?

GUPTA: That's right. I mean -- and when you do hear about it in sporting event, you do typically hear about it in sports like baseball or even lacrosse or sports like that involving a ball, a hard ball at a high rate speed and hitting the chest at just the right time.

You really don't hear about this in football much. I was just sort of trying to talk to some of my colleagues in the sports medicine world. This is unusual.

I mean, the condition that we are talking about here, and I will say this again, we don't know for sure, but what it may appear to be here is something known as cordis commotio where basically the heart -- the chest just around the position of the heart is hit at just the right time, and that basically is what triggers this arrhythmia, a change in the electrical rhythm of the heart.

I think it probably doesn't happen more than a dozen or two dozen times a year, just to give you some sense, Laura, of how rare this is. And again, I don't know that I've heard about this in football.


But the idea again of something smaller, a ball usually hitting the chest, in this case it may have been the edge of a shoulder pad or something like that that may have hit the chest, we don't know for sure. But that is possibly what happens here. And you have a little bit of time after the blow occurs before someone might actually start to become acutely symptomatic, in this case passed out, lose consciousness, as we saw happened to him.

COATES: We are awaiting the news conference as we speak at the hospital where the Buffalo Bills' Damar Hamlin is being treated. He's 24 years old, collapsing in the game today after a tackle, a hard hit. He was able to stand up following that tackle before collapsing on to the field. They administered CPR. An ambulance did carry him away to the hospital where he is now listed in critical condition.

I want to bring in CNN sports anchor Coy Wire and get your take because you mentioned this hit particularly close to home for you. You were a Buffalo Bills player. Yourself have had injuries. A titanium plate, I think, at some point in your body or neck. You watched and witnessed fellow players be injured on the field.

I'm wondering what you, Coy Wire, are feeling tonight because this is emotional for everyone to watch and to see and to have this anxiety of what is happening to this young man right now in the hospital.

COY WIRE, CNN SPORTS ANCHOR: Yes, Laura, I played six of my seasons in Buffalo. And I played safety just like Damar. And just watching that game tonight as a fan, you know, cheering my team on, wearing my colors, when I saw him fall, I knew there was something different. You know, I have a titanium plate and four screws on my neck. I was knocked unconscious several times in my career. One, I didn't remember what happened until the next day.

But I've been in similar situations that those players on that field felt tonight. When I was playing with the Buffalo Bills in 2007, my teammate, Kevin Everett from the University of Miami, he's a tight end, we were covering a kick together and he hit the wedge and he just fell to the ground like a LED balloon, and he was paralyzed on that play. There were the ambulances, there were the huddles, there were the tears.

When I was in college at Stanford University, my teammate, running back Kerry Carter hit University of Washington's Curtis Williams, and he was paralyzed from the neck down in the year 2000. He passed away two years later from complications from that hit.

So, seeing that game and just thinking about that, I mean, you know, it brings emotions out of me and memories because typically, as players, we are trained to have a next play mentality.

You know, I think that in years past, those players would have been getting small insults and the coaches would've been smacking them on the butt and say, all right, let's buckle up, we got to focus, let's get back to it. And if there's any sort of silver lining in this tragic situation, it is that our perception about player health and safety has changed.

All of the CTE, all of the concussion talks, all of the lives that were lost, all of the lives that have been altered from the people who played this game, maybe those are in vain, because that game tonight was stopped. That has never happened before, Laura. That to me is a powerful moment.

But it pales in comparison to this young man, this son, this young man who is out trying to help this community as a backup safety. He was getting an opportunity to play on Monday night football, Laura. I guess the Cincinnati Bengals made it to the Super Bowl last year and this happens. I can't imagine what he's feeling. I can't imagine what his mom is feeling, his teammates are feeling.

But we can just send collective thoughts and prayers. I believe that works. I believe there is power in that. The last we heard, he is in critical condition, fighting for his life.

And hopefully, just as I mentioned, whatever situation, that something can be learned from this, and that he has a speedy, healthy and full recovery, he can get back out, playing the game he loves, giving back and serving communities, doing toy drops for children like he loves to do. That is a young man who needs all of us sending him well wishes tonight.

COATES: Coy, you are so right, and I would note that the Toy Drive is updating it and looking at it. People are responding around the country and around the world, and donating to that Toy Drive tonight. An exponential growth. It just shows you the recognition and the collective thoughts going towards this young man. And we can confirm that Damar's mother was at the game and rode in the ambulance with her son.


We've got a lot more to come tonight on our breaking news. Tonight's Buffalo Bills-Cincinnati Bengals game has been postponed after the Bills' Damar Hamlin collapsed on the field after a hard hit. He was transported to a local hospital. His mother, with him in the ambulance. He is now in critical condition. We are waiting for a news conference from the hospital.


COATES: Our breaking news continues tonight. Buffalo Bills safety 24- year-old Damar Hamlin in critical condition after collapsing after a hard hit during the first quarter of tonight's game between the Bills and the Cincinnati Bengals.

We are seeing right now people from -- in Cincinnati, fans of the Bills, fans of the Bengals holding a bit of a vigil outside of the hospital tonight in support of Damar.

[23:25:00] He fell on his back just moments after getting up from an open field tackle of Bengals' wide receiver, Tee Higgins. Buffalo Bills team trainers got to him within 10 seconds after he collapsed. An ambulance was brought on to the field, and he was administered CPR.

I want to bring in former NFL player Donte Stallworth. What you're seeing tonight as well, Donte, you know, you have people out there who are showing support, who are wondering what has happened and whether he will be okay. We are monitoring all of the different reporting coming and waiting for official reporting, an official news about his current condition. He has been in critical condition.

I wonder what is going through your mind tonight, and particularly, this idea of this decision process of postponing the game for many people who are watching this. In fact, ESPN, as they were covering the game, the thought that this game can't go on, how can this happen, but the reason it was thought to maybe go on is because of where we are in the season.

DONTE STALLWORTH, FORMER NFL PLAYER: Yes, unfortunately, this -- coming to this week, this week was a big for a lot of teams that are vying for those last couple of playoff spots. And so, this Cincinnati Bengals and the Buffalo Bills game had extremely high implications for the NFL playoffs to try to get that coveted number one seed. That is the only seed this year that has the home playoff game, home field advantage, and these two teams could possibly, at the end of the year, end up in the championship to decide who goes to the Super Bowl to play the NFC champion.

So, this game -- the magnitude of this game was extremely high, and to see this unfortunate incident happen early in the game and not just the Bills fans, not just the Bills players and coaches but the Bengals fans, all of them in the stadium, all coming together in understanding how big this situation was, much bigger than football.

Football is irrelevant at the moment. And you see, as you noted earlier, the Bengals fans were there in their jerseys, presumably coming straight from the game, and went straight to the hospital to hold a candlelight in front of the hospital, obviously wishing Damar well.

And all of the players, I mean, you saw Stefon Diggs, teammate of his, going to the hospital. I think I saw somewhere where they said he caught an uber from the stadium to get to the hospital and he had to kind of talk his way through police to get in and get them realize that he was his teammate, brother and friend, and they let him in.

And it was just really tough to see how this is transpiring. But it's good to see that people are taking humanity first and not worried about the game so far.

COATES: Talk to me -- I mean, I never played football. I've never played, obviously, at the professional level that you have performed and have been as dedicated and devoted to a sport. So, I don't know what it's like to be in those locker rooms, to have the skill, the acumen, the athletic ability, and also the comments, the coaching, the persistence and directives that are given to you.

Tell me what it is like. Is there some way that we are all prepared for something like this? I mean, the idea of -- Coy Wire spoke about the next play mentality. I mean, how does that come about? Is it something that is not only encouraged but you've got to have that mentality to be maybe brave and bold enough to go out there for that next hist, to take the next hit again? Walk me through what it is like to achieve that level of professionalism. It's not without risk and about dismissing the risks.

STALLWORTH: Yes, it is really a present -- a present moment mentality. And I say that because most of the time, these aren't necessarily geared towards injuries. These are geared towards mistakes that are made on the field. And if you play long enough, if you play enough games, regardless of how great you are, you will make mistakes.

I've dropped a number of passes before and you tried to forget about those the next play because if you let it linger, it's going to linger into that next play and you can possibly drop another one. You can put yourself in a position where you could really lose your cool and not be focused on the game.

COATES: And in a sport like this, it could lead to more injuries or even an injury to yourself or someone else.

STALLWORTH: Exactly, exactly. But that mentality does show up for injuries because there are so many injuries because it's such a violent sport. Football is not a contact sport. That is basketball and maybe even soccer. But football is a collision sport.

And I don't know if we discuss that enough where the mentality is, you know, a player gets injured and they get injured often, and the next guy has to be ready and willing to step up and take its place. And it's not that you necessarily forget about that player, he's still in the locker room, he's still around, he still your brother, friend and teammate.


But you do have to go out and perform the duty that he was performing. That's exactly what Damar Hamlin was doing ever since. He was one of the best players in the NFL. And so, he got his opportunity because a player got hurt. Because of that mentality, he was able to step in and play and not just fill his role but play well in that role as a young player. This doesn't happen often.

And for him to get his opportunity and to play exceptionally well and this to happen tonight, obviously, for football and for his football career, you think about that, that is really heartbreaking. But, you know, obviously, what is more important is him right now fighting for his life, him being able to resume a healthy life as a young man. And you know, if the stars align and things work out well in his favor, then he could resume his football career. But obviously, the most important thing is his health.

COATES: I want to let everyone know, too, what we're seeing on the right side of our screen, we are watching from an affiliate who is able to bring us this footage outside of the hospital where Damar is being treated. You got Bengals fans. You got human beings outside holding a candlelight vigil of sorts for another human being who is inside, and after what we've seen on the field tonight, presumably fighting to be out of critical condition and for his life.

We've got a lot more to come on our breaking news tonight. Buffalo Bills, well, the irony of him being a safety, Damar Hamlin in critical condition tonight after collapsing after a hard hit during the first quarter of tonight's game between the Bills and the Cincinnati Bengals.




COATES: The breakings news we're following tonight, Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin hospitalized in critical condition after collapsing after a hard hit during the first quarter of tonight's game between the Buffalo Bills and the Cincinnati Bengals. He fell on his back just moments after getting up from an open field tackle of Bengals' wide receiver, Tee Higgins.

I want to go back to Bob Costas now. Bob, we are getting reports right now. We have an NFL statement that has been issued on the Bills- Bengals game. I want to read it for you here. As we are watching, people from outside of the hospital, Buffalo Bills fans, Bengals fans alike, human beings trying to show support outside of the hospital.

But the statement from the NFL tonight reads, tonight, Buffalo Bills- Cincinnati Bengals game has been postponeda after Buffalo Bills Damar Hamlin collapsed.

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell announced, Hamlin received immediate medical attention on the field by team and independent medical staff and local paramedics. He was then transported to a local hospital where he is in critical condition. Our thoughts are with Damar and the Buffalo Bills. We will provide more information as it becomes available.

The NFL has been in constant communication with the NFL Players Association, which is in an agreement with postponing the game. Bob, what is your reaction to that tonight?

COSTAS (via telephone): It was the right thing to do, all things considered. This game has playoff implication which are significant or insignificant rather alongside the player's condition. But it is not like baseball where you can just play the next day unless they decide they are going to keep the Bills and Bengals in town and play on a Tuesday night.

They are moving towards the playoffs. So, they're going to have to decide whether they simply cancel the game and the Bills and Bengals play 16 games while everybody else in the league plays 17. Both were short of making the playoffs. Seeding was still in doubt. So, perhaps they will say, look, freeze it right where it is and this game won't be played at all because it's very difficult if they are going to push it until next week. The playoffs start the week after that. There will still be another game to play.

So, it is just a scheduling problem, which is, as I said, is insignificant alongside the condition of Damar Hammlin. But that is something to consider once we determine what Mr. Hamlin's condition is and the league decides what they want to do going forward.

COATES: A really important point to talk about the significance and insignificance relative to the experience of this individual, this person, Damar Hamlin.

I'm wondering about the idea of not moving into a different day. This obviously comes down to what we've spoken about before, the profitability of Monday night football, which is arbitrary in its very nature as to why tonight, as opposed to any other day, but the cost, the money involved that makes the world go around, and certainly the players and the fields go around. Talk to me about the impact of the financials into the decision-making as well.

COSTAS (via telephone): I guess the -- there was an attendance at the game. That is not made up at some point. I guess the tickets for tonight game, if they do make it up in Cincinnati, they would be good. Perhaps, there would be refunds to the Bengals ticket holders if the game is not played at all because, obviously, the game is not played to conclusion or anything close to it because the injury occurred in the first quarter.

All of that is very much secondary. They did the right thing. The game was the only game, so it had national attention on Monday night.


(via telephone): They did the right thing because it could very well have happened -- I don't mean to speak so bluntly here, but suppose that they had decided, okay, they took the young man off the field, gave him CPR, they used a defibrillator, he is on his way to the hospital in an ambulance, pull yourself together after a few minutes and play the game, and then let's suppose that word came from the hospital in the middle of the game that he had died, that would be horrible, not only from, most importantly, a human perspective, but also in terms of public relations and the public reaction to that, in a social media world, that would be a very bad look to the NFL.

So, I think both for cold business reasons and most importantly for humane reasons, they decided to postpone the game.

COATES: We also learned -- I want to bring in Dr. Sanjay Gupta on that point, Bob. Dr. Sanjay Gupta, we are learning this evening now -- we have been expecting the possibility of a news -- possibly, there might be some updates from the hospital. We don't know if there would've been or not, but we are learning that there will not be tonight a press conference coming from the hospital. I know in the world where we are often accustomed in this 24/7 news cycle and we have the patience of perhaps a toddler, it's often expected that we will get updates as soon as we hope to get them as opposed to the course of treatment and the review when the medical provider is being able to work --

GUPTA: Right.

COATES: -- on a timeline that will work for the patient, which is most important. Tell me, the fact that we may not get any updates tonight, does that concern you at all?

GUPTA: No. I would've been surprised actually if there would've been updates tonight. It does take some time to assess the situation. There are lots of testing that is going on, and they want to get more information, I imagine, the medical team, before giving some sort of update. I think they'd want to give something as substantive as they can when they give the update. And that takes time, typically.

In fact, if there was an update that quickly, I would've worry that maybe that would've been bad news, frankly, worst news. So, maybe this is a little bit of a good sign. It doesn't mean that there is not a lot that needs to be done, but I think they want to get some of those test results back.

And last we heard, he was in critical condition. I'm sure that they want to spend their energy right now addressing his care and trying to stabilize, make sure he is stable before giving any updates, you know, obviously, the family first, as what is going on before everyone else.

COATES: And as you mentioned, the idea that if CPR was administered, as we believe it had been administered to him, there is a battery of tests to assess the impact on the vital organs and beyond for oxygenated blood that may have been out of reach or was restricted in some way. A lot of information to come before us. We are going to keep you posted.

GUPTA: That's right.

COATES: Thank you so much. We got a lot more to come tonight with our breaking news. The Buffalo Bills Damar Hamlin collapsing on the field tonight after hard hit during Monday night football. He is right now in a local hospital, as Dr. Gupta spoken about, where he is in critical condition.





UNKNOWN (voice-over): I'm not sure if you saw what has happened in the -- if you saw in the locker room what happened with the NFL game. They have suspended the game while waiting the player's condition. I was wondering if you could comment on your thoughts on what happened, whether that's the right call, obviously.

LEBRON JAMES, FORWARD FOR LOS ANGELES: Well, I obviously don't know what happened. I've seen the play, but I don't know exactly what happened. My thoughts and super prayers go up to the skies above for that kid's family, for him, for, you know, that brotherhood of the NFL and everybody, a part of the NFL family. It's definitely the right call by either -- whoever made that call. Roger Goodell or whoever had an opportunity or the authority to make that call to suspend it.

The safety of our players in all sports is always the most important. So, you know, it is a terrible thing to see. And I wish, you know, nothing but the best for that kid, for the city of Buffalo, for the franchise and the Bills. Like I said, for the rest of the NFL, too, as well, and also the Bengals that was there playing that game.

So, I'm a huge fan of the NFL. I'm a huge fan of football. And, you know, you never want to see anything like that happen even in the type of competition that they're playing in.


COATES: The entire sports world really in shock tonight. That was LeBron James, obviously, reacting to Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin, who is in critical condition after collapsing after a hard hit during the first quarter of tonight's game between the Bills and the Cincinnati Bengals.

As you see, he's number three there. He fell on his back just moments after getting up from an open field tackle of Bengals wide receiver, Tee Higgins. Buffalo Bills team trainers got to him within 10 seconds after he collapsed. An ambulance was brought on to the field, and he was administered CPR.

I want to bring back on Donte Stallworth, a former player as well. Donte, when you're hearing and, of course, just trying to synthesize and digest all of what we are seeing and taking a step back, thinking about what we know so far, we know what we have seen.


Medically, we do not know what he's experiencing right now. We do not know how critical of the condition he is in or what that means for this young 24-year-old.

But just thinking about one thing that LeBron James spoke about, the brotherhood of all these sports. I say the sisterhood included as well, thinking about women being prone to injuries as well in their own right in their sports. I mean, athletes from different teams and different sports watch this in a way that you and I have talked about already. The idea of the shock and the fear, but having to move past that.

It strikes me, Donte, what a different world and why we're talking about this. The idea of, of course, the game stopped. It was not long you were talking about shot up and dribble in your lane.


COATES: You're not entertained. Now, recognition of these human beings. It feels different.

STALLWORTH: I think the players themselves have taken ownership. I don't know how exactly that decision -- I don't know the steps they came about to cancel this game or to postpone this game. One thing I do know is, watching those players' reactions, I don't think they were going back out there, especially the Bills players.

I saw their reactions. Everyone was horrified. Watching this from your couch, whether you were on the field or if you were sitting at home like the rest of us watching, watching those players, I mean, just their reactions, that is when I -- I couldn't see exactly what's happening, but I knew there was something different.

COATES: You can't see him because they were crowding around him.

STALLWORTH: Exactly. But their reactions, their body language really told me the severity of -- that it was something that we haven't seen before. We have seen some really tragic and horrible things happen, but the players, I think, really took the initiative here, and the NFL made the right call at the end of the day.

COATES: We will take a quick break, everyone. We are going to come back with more on our breaking news and what has happened to Damar.




COATES: Our breaking news tonight, a terrible injury in the field during tonight's Monday night football game. Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin collapsing on the field after a hard hit in the very first quarter of the game against the Cincinnati Bengals. An CPR was administered on the field, and the 24-year-old was taken away in an ambulance. He was transferred to Cincinnati Hospital where he is listed in critical condition. The game was then postponed.

Thank you all for watching. Our live coverage continues. Stay with us right here on CNN for more on Damar Hamlin collapsing on the field in the middle of the Bills-Bengals game after a hard hit.

John Berman picks up our coverage after this.