Editor’s Note: Our readers responded strongly to this story when it originally ran; we’re reposting it here in case you missed it.
Retired Super Bowl champion Benjamin Watson said the on-field collapse of Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin during a “Monday Night Football” game in January should serve as a reminder that life is precious and can change in an instant.
Hamlin stunned fans when he suddenly collapsed and went into cardiac arrest during a game against the Bengals in Cincinnati.
Thankfully, he survived the scary ordeal, and he has even returned to the field this season.
During a CNN interview Jan. 4, two days after Hamlin’s collapse, Watson said the fact that a world-class athlete in the prime of his life abruptly suffered heart failure is a sobering reminder of how fleeting life is.
“These times bring us face-to-face with our own mortality,” he told host Anderson Cooper. “We all have a day to be born, and we all have a day to die.”
The former New England Patriots tight end said he hoped the tragedy would serve as a wake-up call for those who witnessed the terrifying incident to think about life after death.
“On the flip side with such a tragic event, there is tremendous opportunity,” Watson said.
“Part of my prayers right now, Anderson, is for the players in both of those locker rooms, for the chaplains who I know very well — who are right now counseling and comforting players who saw a brother in a near-death experience and who is still fighting for his life — because the questions about what happens after this life, where will you spend eternity … are coming up for all of us, not just for the football players.
“But thank God that he provides an answer through his son, Jesus Christ.”
Life can change in the blink of an eye. Damar’s injury has made us all wrestle with this truth. It has served as a reminder of own mortality. While we pray for him as he fights for his life we must ask ourselves where will we spend eternity? Thanks for this convo @andersoncooper pic.twitter.com/WrYQWNZ4hR
— Benjamin Watson (@BenjaminSWatson) January 5, 2023
The fact that a message like this aired on liberal CNN at a time when deriding Christianity is commonplace and accepted was shocking.
Watson, a pro-life activist who describes himself as “an outspoken Christian,” received widespread support on social media for openly discussing his faith.
Thank you, Jesus, for this opportunity and for providing Benjamin with the words! Protect those seeds and may they fall on hearts of fertile soil!
— Rich Shipe (@RichShipe) January 5, 2023
Wow! Thank you Ben. For being bold and up front. You’re absolutely correct eternity in Christ, is the better choice without a single doubt!
— ✭ naty ✭ (@cowboys_chic) January 5, 2023
Some commenters agreed with Watson that the Hamlin incident had sparked renewed conversations about God.
I can clearly see God using this incident to bring light to His kingdom. The power of prayer being seen everywhere, and His people coming together is what He’s called us to do this whole time!! ✝️
— Amanda “Panda” Bell 🐼🏴☠️ (@jrgurl88) January 5, 2023
When CPR was being administered to Hamlin, players on both teams were seen praying for him on live TV.
— BILLSMAFIA(12-3) (@NflNews05) January 3, 2023
Please don’t share the video of the Damar Hamlin play. Share this because we are all Praying for him and his family. pic.twitter.com/QnO7DpAo7u
— Robert Griffin III (@RGIII) January 3, 2023
The demonstration of faith was seen by millions of viewers: The “Monday Night Football” broadcast in which Hamlin collapsed in the first quarter was the most watched in ESPN’s history.
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