Ethics Quote Of The Month (Alleged): Damar Hamlin

“Did we win?”

Damar Hamlin, the Buffalo Bills safety who suffered a near-fatal heart attack during a Monday Night Football NFL game this week, after two days in intensive care and still breathing with the help of a ventilator, in a scribbled a note shortly after regaining consciousness.

Well, it’s a great story. In the spirit of the old newspaperman at the end of “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valence” [“When the legend becomes fact, print the legend.”], I’m going to assume it’s true, though I have grave doubts. For one thing, it’s hearsay; for another, the account comes through the NFL publicity staff, and the NFL’s any-staff has no ethics credibility at all. But the quote is possibly true, and it certainly conveys an ethical lesson: Put your “team,” whatever it may be, above your own concerns; care about whether your misfortune in pursuit of a shared goal interfered with that goal rather than focusing only on your own welfare. There really have been documented instances where an athlete did give the equivalent quote following a serious injury.

For example, Bobby Valentine, better known today as a super-intense, win-at-all-costs manager, was once a rising star with the Los Angeles Angels. But he suffered a horrible compound fractured leg trying to make a great play on an outfield fly, and never recovered sufficiently to play at his previous level. As they were carrying Valentine off the field in a stretcher, his bone sticking out through the skin, he gasped to his team mates, “Win the game…win the pennant!” and then passed out. They used to mock Bobby for exactly that “rah-rah” attitude, so the story rings true, and maybe the Hamlin quote is as well.

The reported response of the doctor who read the note—“Yes, Damar, you won.You’ve won the game of life!”—-however…..well, I’ll just say that part of the story is even harder to believe than “Did we win”?

7 thoughts on “Ethics Quote Of The Month (Alleged): Damar Hamlin

  1. Couldn’t the doctor have simply said, “The game was suspended,” and left it at that? I can’t imagine any physician saying, “You’ve won the game of life!” For one thing, he may still die. Any TV writer would be fired for even suggesting anything so schmaltzy. That’s pathetic.

    I’m going to assume he said no such thing. This is “Win one for the Gipper” (Notre Dame football lore) or “Tell the boys to bear down” (University of Arizona football lore).

    • It’s very unlikely he will die now. The first thing was to stabilize his vitals. The did that, that night. Sedation, hypothermic cooling and breathing tube after the heart has been restarted.

      The second thing is the waking up phase. They removing the cooling, slow down the sedation. They wake up or don’t, if the do they may not be who they were.

      This happened to my brother, the cause different but cardiac arrest are treated like this. My Brothers was due to a blood clot. There’s only speculation on Darmar’s.

      Anyways my point is when they wake up don’t have all their faculties, they’re mostly out of the woods. The could be some issue with organs, but that’s usually treatable.

      He will be weak for awhile. He will need physical therapy to even be functional . Probably about another 5 days before they even let him walk. He’s got a road but his life is out of danger unless there’s some unusual complications.

  2. I can believe that Hamlin said that — these guys are uber competitive. It’s one reason they made it to the very pinnacle of their profession (and I’m thinking baseball, hockey, basketball as well).

    The doctor’s alleged response? Much, much harder to credit. But if he did say that, I think I would want him off the case. Spouting that kind of crap is liable to warp all your thinking.

  3. If what he said was true, and I don’t doubt it, this is reminiscent of something that happened in World War II.
    Signalman First Class Douglas Monroe, US Coast Guard, was in charge of several boats sent to rescue US Marines trapped on Guadalcanal under heavy Japanese fire. To protect the Marines as they were being evacuated he placed his boat between them and the Japanese. While firing at the enemy, he was hit in the back of the head. The evacuation was successful. He woke up briefly and his final words were the question “Did they all get off?” Assured that they had, he passed away.
    He is the only member of the Coast Guard to have one the Medal of Honor.
    If that’s not the DEFINITION of selflessness, I do t know what is.

  4. The reported response of the doctor who read the note—“Yes, Damar, you won.You’ve won the game of life!”—-however…..well, I’ll just say that part of the story is even harder to believe than “Did we win”?

    It’s ridiculous. Why on earth would the doctor be going on about a cellular automaton of John Conway’s at a time like that? And it’s not the sort of game you can “win”, anyway.

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