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If you think the NFL players who saw the Damar Hamlin cardiac arrest happen before their eyes would want to get quickly back on the field Sunday to put a new NFL memory in their mind, then you’d be mistaken.
At least that’s not how the Cincinnati Bengals feel.
The club made two players available to speak to reporters at a podium on Wednesday — about 36 hours after their game with the Buffalo Bills was suspended following the Hamlin episode. And although both quarterback Joe Burrow and defensive lineman D.J. Reader are good with playing on Sunday, they say not everyone is.
And even they don’t seem super fired up about it.
Some Bengals Can’t Say If They Want To Play
“That’s a tough question,” Reader said. “There’s a lot of things to that and I don’t really make those decisions. I can’t really answer that question. I got to go out there and play if that’s what’s called to do.
“But I can also see the other side if guys don’t want to. I empathize with that and can understand why that would be the case. I’m just not in the space to say what I want to do right now.”
Burrow is good to play. But he knows not everyone on his team shares that feeling.
“I’m sure if you polled the locker room there would be mixed votes on that,” Burrow said. “Personally I think playing is going to be tough. But there’s people that want to play, too. And there’s people that don’t.
“Personally I probably want to play. I think getting back to as normal as you can as fast as you can is how I deal with these kind of things. But everybody has a different way of dealing with it.”
Hamlin Injury Casts Shadow
So what are they dealing with? Well, Hamlin isn’t a Cincinnati player but he’s in the same NFL fraternity. These guys call it a brotherhood.
And as Reader said, “our brotherhood is down right now.”
Hamlin being hospitalized and fighting for his life has everything to do with that. But perhaps the realization it could happen to them is also giving some players pause.
“Collectively, every single person that plays the game and has played has thought about something like that happening,” Burrow said. “At the same time that you’re thinking that, thinking it would never happen to you or to anybody you know.
“I think it’s a big wake up call for everybody that it’s a possibility. It can happen and it’s part of the game, unfortunately. That hit happens on every play of every single game. That’s the scary part about it.”
Joe Burrow Says Players Team Will Play
And, of course, that means it will happen time and again on Sunday when the Bengals host the Baltimore Ravens at 1 p.m.
“As unfortunate as it is, we’ve got a game to play on Sunday,” Burrow said. “And so as unusual as this week has been, it’s business as usual from a football standpoint. Unfortunately. I don’t really know what to say about it because it’s such a scary, emotional time.
“And guys still have a football game on Sunday. And it’s our job to get out there and execute and play the game the way we need to play to go and win. It is what it is. We’ve had discussions as a team about what happened and where we’re at going forward. And that’s where we’re at.”