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Monday Night Observations
I must have spent a good 10 minutes clicking around my NFL Game Pass app this morning, wondering why it wouldn’t give me the option of watching Bengals-Bills. At first, I thought maybe with the season winding down, someone just hadn’t gotten around to editing it yet, but in that case the full version should have been available, and it wasn’t. I’m loath to look at email, texts and especially Twitter before I watch the game because I don’t want any spoilers, and this promised to be a great game. So I kept at it a while, even tried it via my laptop browser version before giving up, clicking on Yahoo to get the boxscore and instead saw a headline.
I won’t waste too many words belaboring the obvious: that Damar Hamlin is a human being, and that he would suffer such a serious, life-threatening injury at age 24 is tragic. Every non-sociopath hopes he recovers in full as quickly as possible.
I also don’t think it’s wrong to ask questions and even speculate as to the cause. Healthy young people don’t just crumble due to cardiac arrest very often. Growing up, I can think of Hank Gathers and a few guys who did enough cocaine to kill an elephant, but that’s about it. Speaking of elephants, the one in the room is that there is apparently a significant spike in all-cause excess mortality, particularly in younger, working-age people, far higher than in 2020 even, and it started around April 2021. There is no contradiction between wanting to know the cause of a tragedy, especially if it might be preventable, and feeling awful for the blameless human being whose life was irreversibly and jarringly thrown off course.
There are a few things I would caution against, however: (1) Drawing firm conclusions about why this happened in order to advance a particular political viewpoint or agenda. The truth matters, and we should ask questions, but one’s tribal agenda does not; (2) Embargoing open and frank discussion of the causes and denouncing those who want to have it. The adverse effects from the mRNA treatments many have suffered are not a “conspiracy theory” — they’re real. Dismissing it out of hand is pushing an agenda as much as pretending you know “the vax was the cause!”; (3) Believing you’re “good” because you think and say the right things, and someone else is “bad” because he says the wrong things. It’s not about you or how virtuous you are. It’s a horrible thing that happened to a football player. We should have empathy for him and his family while ruthlessly pursuing every lead in order to find out of whether this was a freak accident or something we can prevent in the future.
. . .
Setting aside the important considerations above for a minute, it’s worth exploring the less important, but far from trivial, implications of postponing a key game between two Super Bowl contenders that would have determined playoff seeding and consequently which team was most likely to play in and win the Super Bowl. I don’t know how the NFL will handle it without disrupting the entire schedule at this point. The fairest thing to do would be to delcare a league-wide Week 18 bye and just push everything back a week, while having only a one-week break between the Conference Title games and the Super Bowl, but I’m not sure if that’s possible logistically.
And that’s not even getting into the fantasy football implications of postponing a game with so many key players during championship week. The NFL had to stop the game under the circumstances, but that decision will have significant consequences for the league and those who play games derived from it.