ST. LOUIS – While about 100 players experienced Damar Hamlin’s cardiac arrest in person, hundreds more are also feeling the effects.

“It’s traumatic, whether they were a part of it or not,” David Harris, a St. Louis sports social worker who works with the NFL Players Association, said.

On January 2, Harris met with active players from across the league, who were all thinking about the same thing.

“The topic was obvious,” Harris revealed. “Everyone seems to be thinking about what has happened and what that means to them as athletes.”

The NFL has one more week of games before the playoffs begin. It’s a final weekend of games. Harris thinks some players may have a hard time suiting up for.

“Through what we often call secondary trauma, you feel as if you’ve experienced it as well,” Harris explained. “It creates apprehension in how you believe you can actually continue to be safe or even if you can perform at that level and be safe.”

Matt Biermann, the president at Elite Football Academy in Chesterfield, thinks the injury could make some parents uncertain about their kids playing football.

“It’s obviously a freak deal, and it may dissuade some parents that are on the fence about (football),” Biermann said. “As a coach, [I would say] we’ve seen that hit hundreds of thousands of times every week, and they obviously don’t have that result.”

Hamlin’s injury hit close to home for Biermann, who in the last year lost two former players to heart issues.

“In my 25 years I’ve never seen it,” he said. “Strange it all happened in a 12-month period.”

Harris said it’s important to create a safe space for friends and family that may need help processing Monday night. He anticipates a rise in clients who will likely want to talk about Hamlin.


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