ESPN did a simple, but powerful tribute to Damar Hamlin. And it was so subtle, you might not have noticed.
It’s Saturday primetime, but ESPN’s NFL Monday Night Football crew is doing the Tennessee-Jacksonville game. And in pre-game, the announcers sported new microphone flags. The sports network reversed the E to show a three. That’s the number worn by Hamlin.
Take a look at the photo ESPN tweeted of Troy Aikman, Joe Buck, Lisa Salters and the rest of the crew from Saturday’s pre-game.
This same ESPN crew was at Paycor Stadium in Cincinnati this past Monday when Damar Hamlin collapsed during the first quarter of the Bengals-Bills game. They all were emotional as they watched athletic trainers do CPR on Hamlin in order to save his life. Hamlin tackled Bengals receiver Tee Higgins. He got to his feet, then fell, lifeless, to the turf.
ESPN didn’t show much of the trainers treating Hamlin. Aikman and Buck kept throwing it to a commercial. Meanwhile, the players on the field formed a shield around the trainers frantically trying to save their friend. When an ambulance took Hamlin off the field, there was more coverage from the crew, as former players who work for ESPN offered their reaction. The network’s coverage drew praise and criticism.
But this Saturday version of ESPN’s Monday Night Football was more celebratory, since Damar Hamlin has shown so much improvement. Sometime Thursday night, doctors took him off the respirator. By Friday morning, Hamlin felt well enough to do a video call with his Buffalo teammates.
And on Saturday, Hamlin was talking to more people. ESPN’s NFL social media account even shared a Facetime screen shot of Damar Hamlin talking to rapper Meek Mill and Fanatics co-chairman Michael Rubin. You could see Hamlin in the bottom of the photo. He was all smiles.