On Tuesday (Jan. 3), ESPN analyst Dan Orlovsky told viewers, “Maybe this is not the right thing to do, but I want to,” right before praying for Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin during an episode of NFL Live.
Hamlin was injured during the first quarter of Monday night’s game against the Cincinnati Bengals after tackling Tee Higgins. Hamlin appeared to be unaffected by the tackle, but roughly three seconds after rising to his feet, he fell lifelessly to the ground because of cardiac arrest.
Medical crews and team trainers worked on Hamlin, administering CPR, while teammates and Bengals’ players helplessly surrounded their injured brother on the field.
As the ambulance pulled off the field, Bills’ players and team personnel were seen kneeling and praying where Hamlin had been seconds before—an image that was later released on the Bills’ social media and has become a rally cry for people’s prayers about the 24-year-old’s athlete’s health.
NFL players praying on the field is not an uncommon site, especially when a player is injured or at the end of a game. Conversely, what retired 13-year NFL veteran quarterback Orlovsky did during ESPN’s NFL Live is unprecedented.
Joined by host Laura Rutledge and former NFL defensive end Marcus Spears, Orlovsky said, “Football gave me everything. You know, and I think even through the midst of absolute tragedy last night, I think some of the beauty of football as well is that has brought us all here together.”
“I’ve heard the phrase ‘thoughts and prayers’ all day, and people asking others to pray for Hamlin,” Orlovsky said. “I’ve heard the Buffalo Bills organization say ‘we believe in prayer,’ and maybe this is not the right thing to do, but I want to—it’s just on my heart that I want to pray for Damar Hamlin right now.”
As Spears voiced agreement, Orlovsky explained that he was going to close his eyes, bow his head, and pray aloud.
“God, we come to you in these moments that we don’t understand, that are hard, because we believe that you’re God, and coming to you and praying to you has impact,” Orlovsky prayed. “We’re sad. We’re angry, and we want answers. But some things are unanswerable. We just want to pray, truly come to you, and pray for strength for Damar, for healing for Damar, for comfort for Damar to be with his family to give them peace.”
Orlovsky continued, “If we believed that prayer didn’t work, we wouldn’t ask this of you God. I believe in prayer. We believe in prayer. We lift up to Damar Hamlin’s name in your name. Amen.”