There aren’t many better combinations of words outside of “weird energy” to describe the Buffalo Bills having a No. 3 Damar Hamlin jersey on the rear of their team’s ambulance vehicle.
To be clear, I don’t think anyone involved in this decision had any ill intent, nor do I think they had anything else on their mind. They had to be spinning the aesthetic choice in a “good vibes” sort of way for any poor soul who’d get driven off the field in such a fashion.
Nevertheless, it feels a little more than slightly problematic on a number of levels.
Invoking the memory of Damar Hamlin’s life-threatening injury with specific imagery every time a Bills player or opponent goes down in a serious way in Buffalo is not a great look. Like, everyone is already thinking the same thing.
We don’t need to hammer the point home any harder…
Dion Dawkins and the Bills had to watch Damar Hamlin be taken away in an ambulance in 2022.
“What happened last year doesn’t prepare you any more. It’s just tough, and it’s sad."@ByTimGraham on Damien Harris’ scare evoking sickening memories of Hamlin's cardiac arrest.
In last night’s case, Bills running back Damien Harris was put in the ambulance on a spine board. He flashed the thumbs up as he left the field, but thank goodness, it sounds like he’s going to be OK:
GREAT NEWS: Source says that #Bills RB Damien Harris, who was taken to a local hospital last night, has full movement in his extremities and suffered what I’m told is a “neck sprain,” but “is otherwise good.”
I understand the angle of, “Hey, we saved Damar Hamlin’s life after his heart stopped beating. You’re in good hands.” That had to be the rationale behind putting the Hamlin No. 3 on both ambulance rear windows. But if someone is being removed from the field on a stretcher, that may be one of the last things they’d ever want to see. Never mind the spectators.
Look, the Hamlin situation was unprecedented. Very difficult to even know what to say about it. Any individual’s reaction to it in a public forum had real potential to come across as tone-deaf, or lacking nuance at best (looking at you, Skip Bayless).
By even writing this article, I realize I’m possibly setting myself up for backlash as well. The main point I’d like to communicate is this: Common sense, empathetic intuition and keeping it simple are pretty good rules of thumb.
The Hamlin No. 3 on the ambulance thing comes across as tacky. Icky. Trivializing what actually happened by shoehorning in a retired jersey sports analogy. Again, the good intentions are there. The right thing to do is to take that thing down, like, yesterday.