Teammates and other NFL players backed Bengals receiver Tee Higgins on Wednesday, saying he did nothing wrong on the play that caused Bills safety Damar Hamlin to collapse.
Tee Higgins, according to NFL players, did not cause Damar Hamlin’s injury
Related: Bengals’ QB Joe Burrow explains Damar Hamlin situation: “Very, very scary.”
The 24-year-old Hamlin’s heart stopped after tackling Higgins, resulting in the game’s suspension on Monday night.
Higgins struck the defensive back in the chest with his right shoulder. Hamlin then dragged Higgins down by wrapping his arms around his shoulders and helmet.
The play appeared routine at first, but Hamlin rose to his feet before collapsing backward.
On the field, medical personnel were able to restart his heart. Hamlin is still in critical condition at a Cincinnati hospital. According to the team, his condition has improved slightly.
“There’s nothing you can do about that hit,” quarterback Joe Burrow said Wednesday after the Bengals practiced for the first time since the incident. “That hit happens on every play of every single game. That’s the scary part about it.”
Cowboys linebacker Micah Parsons reacted angrily to ESPN’s suggestion that Higgins was partially to blame for lowering his head and “throwing his body” into Hamlin’s chest after catching a 13-yard pass.
“Are we serious?!? “Why do we let some people speak on tv?!,” Parsons tweeted in response to Scott’s remarks. “This was a freak incident but putting fault on another player is wild!!”
Tyler Boyd, a Bengals receiver, was more direct in his response to Scott, tweeting, “straight bozo.”
D.J. Reader, a Bengals defensive tackle, said Hamlin and Higgins were simply “out there playing at full speed.”
“It’s just what happens sometimes, and it’s just such a freak accident,” Reader explained. “You can’t take your foot off the gas as a defender or an offensive player out there. If you’re playing lightly, you’re going to take your risk of getting hurt. It’s the only way to play this game. You got to play 100 miles an hour, and that’s how you go about it.”
MORE: Bills Issue Statement Regarding Damar Hamlin’s Condition Following Football Field Collapse (Updated: Jan. 5)
According to Bears center Sam Mustipher, extreme violence is part of the NFL deal.
“Football is a game where you want to impose your will on another man,” Mustipher said. “And I’m sure you know [Higgins] thought, ‘I’m lowering my shoulder, knocking it forward, finishing a run after a catch.’ And that happens. You know, I hope his mental is good, he’s doing all right. You know, there is a lot of emotion and passion in this game. Yeah, I can’t imagine what he is feeling right now.”
Jordon Rooney, a spokesman for the Hamlin family, called for “rallying around like people like Tee Higgins” outside the University of Cincinnati Medical Center. You know, like he needs support.”
Higgins, who was not available to reporters on Wednesday, is handling the situation as best he can, according to Burrow.
“Tee’s doing well. He’s pretty shaken up, just like all of us,” Burrow stated. “We’ve never seen anything like that, and unfortunate as it is, that’s part of the game and something that you hope never happens, but as we saw on Monday night, can and will happen.”
“My communication with Higgins is that he’s doing OK,” Bengals coach Zac Taylor said.