The Buffalo Bills players gather around and pray for their teammate Damar Hamlin during this week's Monday Night Football game against the Cincinnati Bengals.
The Buffalo Bills players gather around and pray for their teammate Damar Hamlin during this week's Monday Night Football game against the Cincinnati Bengals, Jan. 2, 2023 in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Joshua A. Bickel)

It’s been a difficult week across the NFL this week after the world watched Bills safety Damar Hamlin collapse on the field after making a tackle during the Monday Night Football broadcast.

Naturally, the life-threatening cardiac event Hamlin suffered hit hardest in NFL circles. The players on both sides of the field Monday night weren’t in any shape to finish the game after seeing what happened. Since then, the images of Hamlin requiring CPR and oxygen on the field have been hard to shake for many who play the game.

Like all the NFL, the Texans have been touched by what transpired on the field of play.

“First off, it is hard,” Texans coach Lovie Smith said when asked about the difficulty of getting the organization through this week. “I have been in football a little bit longer than most of the guys in the locker room. I’ve been part of games and teams that have had some serious injuries. But not one like this that played out right in front of all of us.”

Hamlin, 24, remains in critical condition at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center, but began showing signs of great improvement late Wednesday night. His neurological condition seems to be in good condition and he is showing signs of being able to communicate nonverbally, even able to write and ask who won the game between the Bills and Bengals.

Still, the optics of what transpired have been hard to get over for many. That was especially so for Texans offensive lineman Jimmy Morrissey, who was teammates with Hamlin at Pitt and the team remain close friends.

“Personally, it’s just more I feel terrible for him and his family because I saw his mom rode with him in the ambulance,” Morrissey said this week. “I couldn’t imagine my mom having to go through something like that. I know his mom and his dad, they traveled to all the games at Pitt. They were always around. His younger brother was always around. It’s just weird being familiar with those people and knowing them. It’s heartbreaking because like I said, Damar (Hamlin) is a great guy. His parents are awesome.”

While the NFL hasn’t made a decision about how to deal with making up Monday’s game, it does seem that the final week of regular-season games will go on this weekend. But understandably with heavy hearts.

“Eventually, football will be played,” said Smith, whose 2-13-1 team is heading to Indianapolis to finish out the season. “We understand that it’s a violent sport. First off for me, what we’re all trying to gather is exactly what happened. I wouldn’t say that it’s just football. I would say that every sport where contact is involved, some freak things can happen that are bad. So, I’m going to go with what our leaders tell us. By me being a football coach, I know there’s risk involved, but that’s something we’ve all chosen to be a part of.”