Kirby Smart stresses importance of educating Georgia on Damar Hamlin’s injury before national championship

 

The entire country has come together in thought, prayer and charitable donations in support of Damar Hamlin since his on-field cardiac arrest Monday.

However, the show must go on, and two college football teams will be playing in the most important game of their lives Monday night at SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles.

Head coach Kirby Smart of the Georgia Bulldogs heads to the tunnel prior to a game against the Ohio State Buckeyes in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl at Mercedes-Benz Stadium Dec. 31, 2022, in Atlanta.
(Todd Kirkland/Getty Images)

The national championship between No. 1 Georgia and No. 3 TCU will be played one week after the scary incident in Cincinnati.

Before news of Hamlin’s improved health, several NFL players seemed on the fence about playing this weekend. But the Bulldogs and Horned Frogs are preparing for the biggest game of the college football season.

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Georgia head coach Kirby Smart wasn’t watching the Bills-Bengals game. He was watching film on TCU to gear up for the title game.

However, Georgia’s athletic trainer Ron Courson saw Hamlin’s collapse, and he knew the staff needed to address it with the team, Smart said.

Smart said they had a mental health specialist and team chaplain with the team the next day, but “it was important to us” to educate the team on what exactly happened to Hamlin.

Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin warms up prior to a game against the Cincinnati Bengals Jan. 2, 2023, at Paycor Stadium in Cincinnati.
(Ian Johnson/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

BILLS’ DAMAR HAMLIN REMAINS IN CRITICAL CONDITION, CONTINUES TO MAKE PROGRESS AFTER CARDIAC ARREST

“Thank goodness we have Ron Courson, who’s an almost 30-year athletic trainer. He was an athletic trainer for me, and he immediately reached out to me. We were in study and watching tape getting ready for TCU, and he reached out and told me and said, ‘We need to address it with our team …,'” Smart told Fox News Digital at national championship media day Saturday.

“Ron educated players on exactly what happened and how rare [it is], but it can happen. And you have to have people in place to save lives. And what an incredible job they did on the scene to make sure he has an opportunity to recover from this. The education piece was important to us to ensure our players that safety measures are there.”

Medical experts have weighed in on the injury, saying Hamlin likely was a victim of commotio cordis, an arrhythmia brought on by a precisely-timed blow to the chest.

“That was not a severe blow, but a moderate blow directly to the chest. The most common thing would be something called commotio cordis, which is Latin for ‘agitation of the heart,'” Dr. Marc Siegel said Tuesday on “Fox & Friends.”

Buffalo Bills fans attend a candlelight prayer vigil for player Damar Hamlin at Highmark Stadium Jan. 3, 2023, in Orchard Park, New York.
(Timothy T Ludwig/Getty Images)

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Hamlin underwent CPR on the field for over nine minutes, and medical staff also used a defibrillator. University of Cincinnati Health physicians said “immediate recognition” of Hamlin’s severe status by the Bills staff saved Hamlin’s life.

“Unfortunately, there are injuries occasionally that happen on sports fields, be it football or others, but it is incredibly rare to have something be this serious that happens like that. And to be that quickly recognized, what they did was immediately marshaled the emergency action plan.” Dr. William Knight told reporters Thursday.