Jobs With Justice Executive Director Erica Smiley issued the following statement about Buffalo Bills player Damar Hamlin, who suffered a cardiac arrest and collapsed on the field during Monday night’s game.
“We echo the sentiments of the NFL Players Association and member players, the former players, and all the blessings and support pouring in from the Buffalo Bills community and across the nation for Damar Hamlin. Our hearts also go out to Damar Hamlin’s mom, the rest of his family, teammates, and players around the league.
“In this era of hundred-billion-dollar media deals, video games, and fantasy leagues, it’s easy to forget the humanity of NFL players that put their lives on the line each week for our entertainment.
“This tragic moment is a sobering reminder that elite professional athletes are more than fantasy players but human beings. It’s also a reminder of why unions’ ability to bargain for health and safety in the workplace is so critical.
“NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith recounts the arduous decades-long struggle NFL players waged to get the NFL to recognize the players’ union in 1993 in his foreword to my book I wrote with Sarita Gupta, The Future We Need.
“The NFL has a responsibility to ensure the safety of its personnel and its players. Yet, on Monday night, the players were the ones who refused to play when their colleague and brother had to receive more than nine minutes of CPR, and it took the league an hour to postpone the game. In addition to providing immediate care, the NFL must also cover the long-term care needs of players who experience acute or chronic health conditions related to their time in the league.
“Just as the country and its fans from all 32 teams have rallied together for Damar in recognition that players’ lives are bigger than the game, the league and its billionaire owners owe it to their players and personnel to finally step up and do the same.”