The commercial breaks were a mixed blessing—a relief to the broadcasters, whose own feelings remained understandable, but a poor time to drink light beer, and an uncomfortable reminder that in the absence of news about Hamlin’s condition (which was not forthcoming), will be anytime soon), and in the absence of an actual football game (which no decent person was in any mood to resume), that ad money was the only reason the cameras were still rolling. In other words, we were witnessing the near-death of a young man objectively in real time. The second time Buck repeated some variation on the phrase “There’s nothing left to say at this point”, it sounded less like a directive to the production truck – let someone else fly for a while – and as a rebuke to the audience. Why are you still watching? Why didn’t you change the channel? What kind of person still cares about playing football?

It was uncharted territory, the guy on the television was more or less telling us to turn off the television. The program itself had an existential crisis. There was no game to show, no update on Hamlin’s condition to share, Black had no cut. The moment Joe Buck said “CPR,” “Monday Night Football” was over. Only it could not end.

only 250 miles Across Ohio, in a separate sports world separated by only a few TV channels, Donovan Mitchell of the NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers was coming in 71 points against the Chicago Bulls. It was the highest single-game total in 17 years, and it makes Mitchell is one of only seven players in the top 70 in NBA history, Mitchell is powerful and ballistic with a 6-foot-10 wingspan, which has earned him the nickname Spyda; The Cavaliers, thanks in large part to him, are most likely to reach the playoffs for the first time since 1998 without LeBron James on the roster. On the emotional spectrum of sports fandom, Mitchell’s night was the polar opposite of the tableau in Cincinnati: joy in the stands, teammates on the bench, magnified delirium in the announcer’s voice. When the Cavaliers won, in overtime, Mitchell’s teammates continued to douse him with water bottles, as if extinguishing a fire, and then they all posed for a picture with the hero of the night.

This is why we watch sports. But it wasn’t the only night Hamlin was hurt; The two events unfolded in lock step in the same hour of real time. On social media, many fans experienced both plays simultaneously. As I traded texts with friends about Michelle’s swelling point – 58! 66! 69! 70! — I kept toggling apps and scrolling through Twitter, where basketball sports figures sat with uninformed speculation about blunt-effect cardiac arrhythmias and blaming Covid vaccinations for Hamlin’s collapse. This wasn’t just any regular season NFL game: The Buffalo Bills and Cincinnati Bengals are Super Bowl contenders, and their matchup had major playoff implications, and it “monday night football,” a multibillion-dollar American institution. Then, suddenly, by rapid consensus, the game didn’t matter at all. Elon Musk of Sports Trolls Was Almost Generous of Skip Bayless, to Step Up and tweet a tech How about postponing the game not so disgusting as to give the entire platform to someone to unite against the abomination. (He even managed to humiliate Shannon Sharpe, the ex-NFL tight end with whom Bayless hosted Fox Sports 1’s “Undisputed.”) sharp to make him stand for their broadcast the next morning.)

But social media also created avenues of catharsis. Hamlin was an unheralded sixth-round pick out of the University of Pittsburgh, near his hometown, McKees Rocks, Pa. He only broke out of the Bills’ starting lineup in September, leaving the stadium in an ambulance after first-string safety Micah Hyde suffered a neck injury. In 2020, Hamlin set up a GoFundMe to bring a toy back home to McKees Rocks, and by Monday afternoon, just before the game, he had raised nearly $2,500. By Friday, the helplessness we all felt on the part of Hamlin was Invested over $8 million in their toy drive,



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