Prayer suddenly became acceptable in the public square in the aftermath of the horrific injury suffered by Buffalo Bills’ defensive back Damar Hamlin on January 2, which took place in front of a national television audience on Monday Night Football. Hamlin experienced cardiac arrest on the playing field, but was revived through the quick and decisive intervention of the doctors and health care professionals who were assigned to the game. Players from both teams — the Bills and the Cincinnati Bengals — were understandably distraught, and some were visibly moved to tears. Soon after the injury, while Hamlin was being attended to by the medical personnel, a large number of players from both squads spontaneously gathered on the playing field, formed a circle, and bowed their heads in prayer. (Actually, this type of gathering happens at the end of almost every NFL game. However, the television networks usually avoid broadcasting the event to their viewing audience.)
But not in this case. Prayer very quickly became acceptable — and even encouraged. It was reported that all 32 NFL teams amended their Twitter photo to say, “Pray for Damar” — which was certainly upsetting to all in the “woke crowd.” ESPN analyst Dan Orlovsky took a big risk the day after the injury when he boldly said on air, “I heard the Buffalo Bills organization say that we believe in prayer, and maybe this is not the right thing to do, but it’s just on my heart and I want to pray for Damar Hamlin right now.” And he did. He said a beautiful and inspirational prayer for Hamlin with the cameras rolling.
Orlovsky might have done the wrong thing in the eyes of his superiors at ESPN, but he did the right thing in the eyes of the one “Superior” whose viewpoint matters. We hope (and we pray) that the openness of Orlovsky and of so many people around the country to pray in response to this terrible injury will carry over into the other dimensions of their lives. They — and hopefully Damar Hamlin — will be better because of it.