The Dallas Cowboys and the entire NFL community collectively prayed and mourned after Bills safety Damar Hamlin collapsed during Monday night’s game against the Bengals. Hamlin was administered CPR on the field before he was transported to the University of Cincinnati Medical Center, where he was given a breathing tube and listed in critical condition.

Incredibly, the worst appears to have been avoided, as Hamlin — thanks to the Bills medical staff, first responders and hospital workers — has made tremendous strides in recent days. He’s made such progress that doctors removed the breathing tube, and he’s even communicated with teammates via FaceTime.

Impossible to put into words how uplifting these updates are.

Just a few days ago, Hamlin was fighting for his life. The news sent shockwaves around the league, and players and coaches from seemingly every team sent their best wishes to Hamlin and his loved ones.

Some (a lot, actually) showed their support by donating to the GoFundMe Hamlin created to fund a toy drive in his hometown of McKees Rocks, Pa.

Getting back to player reactions, Dak Prescott had a powerful response to the harrowing news. For obvious reasons, Hamlin’s scare triggered memories of former Cowboys strength and conditioning coach Markus Paul’s tragic death in 2020.

Damar Hamlin scare reminded Cowboys’ Dak Prescott of former strength coach Markus Paul’s tragic passing.

Two days before Thanksgiving, Paul, 54, suffered a medical emergency and collapsed at the Cowboys’ practice facility. He was attended to on site by team medical personnel before being taken to a hospital, where he later passed the following day.

Several Cowboys players were on hand when the coach collapsed, so you can imagine how traumatizing this tragedy was for them, and the entire organization.

As a widely respected and decorated strength coach around the NFL, the tragic news reached far beyond the Cowboys franchise.

Paul joined Dallas’ strength staff in 2018, but he had spent 20 years as a strength and conditioning coach for multiple teams, including the Giants, Patriots, Saints and Bears. He was on the coaching staff of five Super Bowl-winning teams — three with New England and New York’s titles in 2007 and 2011.

Unable to reschedule their Thanksgiving game vs Washington, the Cowboys took a moment before kickoff to remember Paul.

Looking back on it, it’s astonishing to think the Cowboys played a football game 24 hours after the passing of a coach.

The lopsidedness of the game (Washington won 41-16) just underlines why it was so important the NFL — with the help of head coaches Sean McDermott and Zac Taylor — postponed Monday’s game between the Bills and Bengals after Hamlin was transported to the hospital following a long delay. The game won’t be resumed, but that’s the least of everyone’s concerns.

Hamlin’s health is the only thing that mattered, and by all accounts the young man is on the road to recovery. Just incredible.



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