MIKE BURKE

Allegany Communications Sports

Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin remains in critical condition and is likely to for some time, having suffered cardiac arrest last Monday night during what had been up to that point a so-called important football game.

Yet Damar Hamlin sat up in his bed on Sunday and watched his Buffalo Bills play. The progress he has made in less than a week, thanks in largest part to the medical care he immediately received on the field from the Bills’ and Cincinnati Bengals’ medical staffs, and then the emergency and medical staffs at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center, has been nothing short of heartwarming and remarkable.

From the moment Hamlin collapsed, though, he has been buoyed and lifted by something other than that, which, in harrowing times like these, comes to us as being as important as science and as important as medicine.

It’s the power of love.

Not seconds after he lost his pulse, Hamlin was surrounded by it, beginning with both the Bengals and the Bills players who surrounded him and shielded him in what seemed to be in the only protective way in their power as the doctors and medical people from both organizations worked all of the powers and knowledge at their disposal with such urgency that it was touching, inspiring and, in the end, lifesaving.

The love immediately spread to the fans in the sellout crowd in Cincinnati, who stayed locked into their seats and surrounded Hamlin with the same prayers that the players had begun on the field; and in a flash, that love and concern filtered throughout the entire country, and we have been sending even more prayers Damar Hamiln’s way ever since.

This power of love is real and Damar Hamlin realizes it and expressed his gratitude to the entire nation for our prayers and support in – utterly remarkably – the first message he was able to post on social media less than five days after suffering cardiac arrest.

“When you put real love out into the world it comes back to you 3X’s as much,” Hamlin wrote on his Instagram page. “The love has been overwhelming, but I’m thankful for every single person that prayed for me and reached out. We brung the world back together behind this. If you know me, you know this only gone make me stronger. On a long road keep praying for me!”

Hamlin, whose neurological function has been labeled as excellent, spoke to his teammates via FaceTime on Friday. His doctors, who conducted a press conference Thursday, stated that the goal for Hamlin is to return to the state he was in when he took the field to start last Monday night’s game.

Prior to these first steps to recovery the nation was able to see the kindness, the goodness and the love in Damar Hamlin’s heart; how he uses his time and his money to provide children in need in both his home and college town of Pittsburgh and in Buffalo with Christmas toys. His Go Fund Me page, in a matter of days, skyrocketed from $2,500 into the millions of dollars to help support these children.

The outpouring of love, support and prayers continues to this moment from millions more people from everywhere in the world while having provided a hopeful contrast to the disunity, the pettiness and the pure hatred that has been on display in our own United States Congress for the past week.

From the mouths of babes is the expression, right? Well, maybe Congress should learn from the compassion and the example of the so-called people it claims to represent. After all, theirs is to perform the work of the people in the building that has long been known as the house of the people.

There have been “Love for Damar” shirts and signs everywhere for the past week, including in every NFL stadium, on every sideline of every NFL stadium and on Damar Hamlin himself as he watched Sunday’s Bills game on television from his hospital bed.

It is almost as though a switch has been clicked on within all of us once the goodness, the compassion and the empathy that is in Damar Hamlin has been seen, and we have chosen to follow his example.

And let’s be perfectly honest: Most of the people around the world who have been praying for Damar Hamlin for the past week likely had no idea who Damar Hamlin even was until he went down on that field and the seriousness of his situation had been realized.

At the conclusion of the film, “It’s a Wonderful Life” when George Bailey finds himself out of the woods and back in his rightful station in life, he receives the book “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer” from his guardian angel Clarence, who writes inside the front cover, “Remember, no man is a failure who has friends.”

Based on what we’ve seen of Damar Hamlin, of ourselves and of the instinctiveness of the human spirit since last Monday night, who knows? There might be some hope for us after all.

Mike Burke writes about sports and other stuff for Allegany Communications. He began covering sports for the Prince George’s Sentinel in 1981 and joined the Cumberland Times-News sports staff in 1984, serving as sports editor for over 30 years. Contact him at [email protected] and [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @MikeBurkeMDT