January 4 — HIGH POINT — High Point’s William Hayes has played 11 years at the elite level of professional football, but the public witnessed what happened to Buffalo Bills defensive back Dummer Hamlin on Monday night. I couldn’t imagine that.
During the Bills and Cincinnati Bengals televised, Hamlin collapsed shortly after hitting his chest during a tackle on a Bengals receiver. The tens of thousands of fans in a stadium in Cincinnati fell eerily quiet as an ambulance arrived on the field to carry them.
Hayes and his wife, Candace Humphrey, run the award-winning local Q’s Corner gym and playground designed specifically for children with disabilities and special needs.
Hayes said his father called to ask if he had seen Hamlin’s injury, and Hayes turned on “Monday Night Football.”
“It’s scary,” he told High Point Enterprises on Tuesday.
As an NFL defensive lineman until his retirement four years ago, Hayes has a perspective on events that few people do.
The 37-year-old Hayes said he has seen horrific injuries, including broken bones and concussions, during his long football career, which included playing at Andrews High School and Winston-Salem State University. But after his heart stopped, he never expected to see an NFL player dying on the field.
“When it happened, to be honest, thank God I never experienced it,” Hayes said. It would have been difficult to sign up, I had never seen it before at any level, I couldn’t believe it.”
Hamlin’s injury was so devastating that Hayes eventually changed stations.
“I just finished it four years ago,” said Hayes, who has played for the Miami Dolphins, Tennessee Titans, St. Louis Rams and Los Angeles Rams.
When Hayes started his football career, he found himself signed up to play the sport with the potential for serious injuries and fractures, and to this day still feels football-related pain.
But what happened to Hamlin is a higher level of danger.
“It wasn’t a concern,” Hayes said.
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