1-3-23 – By Gary Morgan – @garymo2007 on Twitter
This is a baseball website.
We don’t stray on that, we don’t delve into the intricacies of other sports, even while we’re fans of many other things.
Sometimes, something happens that transcend everything. Last night, Bills Safety, former University of Pittsburgh and Central Catholic, and Pittsburgh Native Damar Hamlin suffered cardiac arrest on the field of play during Monday Night Football in Cincinnati.
This happened right after I finished reading comments on my latest 5 Pirates Thoughts at 5 piece.
Comments were typical, Shelton is a piece of sh**!, F Castro and his Cell Phone!, and on and on and on.
These things don’t really bother me, they’re easy enough to ignore, and I chalk it up to frustration boiling over a bit.
But last night, man it just hit home for me, this is just a game, and these players and coaches, are just people. Talented people, but just living, breathing human beings with families and friends, pets and mortgages.
I’ve never seen anything quite like that last night. Players getting hurt, well that happens just about every game even if a simple tweaked ankle, but a player collapsing and having almost 10 minutes of potentially life saving CPR performed right there on the field, folks if that doesn’t effect you, maybe change the way you think about these players at least a little, I’m not sure what to say.
This is a lesson I learned some time ago. Toward the beginning of my writing career if that’s what you want to call it, I wrote that some player (who I’ll keep to myself) was a “worthless bum”.
Now if that doesn’t sound like the type of stuff I write to you, good, it means I genuinely learned a lesson and have managed to keep myself in check.
A member of the player’s family directly reached out to me and asked me simply what gave me the right to call this guy something like that. I was cocky, I fired back without thinking, he stunk for like two weeks straight! It was then they gently and calmly said, you mean when his grandmother died and he chose to stay with the team anyway and play through it?
I hadn’t been doing this very long, and I’ll be blunt, I considered just quitting right there. I had just been rightfully smacked in the nose, and I could either just go away, or I could learn the difference between critique and ignorant bashing.
Something like this happening should be eye opening for everyone. Suddenly the entire NFL world knows not only who Damar is but where he’s from, causes he believes in, how much importance he places on his family, how he’s embraced his new community of Buffalo and never forgotten what home really is here in Pittsburgh.
These are sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, wives and husbands, living breathing human beings, some experiencing many of the same problems you face everyday, you just don’t have 14,000 Twitter users jeering at you when you enter a wrong number in your spreadsheet because your head wasn’t in the game.
In fact earlier this season, Damar had a particularly hard hit on Kenny Pickett, his friend from college, and online all the people that should have known him best, all the people who live in Pittsburgh and watched one of our own grow up and stay here for college in large part to stay close to his beloved family set forth questioning his integrity for making a play.
The internet has done many positive things, but one big negative is it’s given millions the ability to put thoughts out there instantly. Simply thinking for 5 minutes before hitting send and 3/4 of those things don’t get posted.
We can do better than this, all of us.
We can realize these are people, and we can act like civilized humans ourselves while criticizing play and breaking down shortcomings.
Something like last night, well, to me that’s a line I pray changes some hearts.
We can have passionate discussions about sports, complete with teasing and hyperbole, and we can also keep in mind, none of that requires wishing harm on players. None of that has to come with the overt hatred that spews out of the mouths of fans on a seemingly daily basis.
It’s just a game, and they’re just people. The price of your cable bill or ticket stub may give you the right to act however you see fit, but it sure would be nice if instead we all took a step back and reconnected with our humanity perhaps we can turn back a trend that has done nothing but devolve for the best part of a decade.
God bless you all, and keep Damar Hamlin in your prayers.