Damar Hamlin, a safety for the Buffalo Bills, collapsed on the field Monday night, shocking the crowd and leaving his teammates overtaken with grief. They huddled around, sobbing, while paramedics administered CPR and loaded Hamlin into an ambulance.
On Tuesday, Hamlin’s condition remained critical. The 24-year-old Bills star’s emergency recalls Chuck Hughes’ passing more than 50 years ago, who also passed away during a game.
Sharon Hughes, the widow of the lone NFL player to pass away on the field during a game, needed assurance that the past was not being repeated.
Hughes, 77, said Tuesday from her Texas home, “I was really emotional.”
Hughes stated that as she watched the events on Monday, she immediately felt a connection to Hamlin’s family. In a similar manner to how Hughes did fifty years prior when her husband, Chuck Hughes, was taken from a field in Detroit, Hamlin’s mother, who was there at the game, reportedly travelled in the ambulance with her son to the hospital in Cincinnati.
“Can you imagine how his mother felt?” Hughes questioned in a conversation. “It’s a horrifying feeling, and, well, I just felt so sorry for the whole family last night.”
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Who was Chuck Hughes?
Charles Frederick Hughes, who was born in March 1943, played wide receiver in the National Football League from 1967 to 1971.
Hughes, who was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, as well as his 12 siblings, migrated to Texas with their family when they were young. Hughes attended Abilene High School for his high school education. Hughes played golf as well.
Hughes played collegiate football at Texas Western College, which is now known as the University of Texas at El Paso, and is still mentioned in the all-time football records there. Among his accomplishments are the following: Against North Texas in 1965, there was a game with the most yards per reception (34.9), which is also an NCAA record. His career average of 132 all-purpose yards per game placed him second. With 3,989 total yards, it ranks fifth all-time. With 19 touchdowns and 2,882 yards, receiving touchdowns in a career rank second. In 2006, he was admitted into the UTEP Athletics Hall of Fame.
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Hughes was chosen by the Philadelphia Eagles in the fourth round of the 1967 NFL/AFL draught. He spent three seasons with the Eagles before being transferred to the Detroit Lions just before the 1970 season began. Despite being labelled as a wide receiver, he mostly played on special teams despite being a wide receiver backup. 15 passes were caught over his five-year career.
Only NFL player to die while playing on the field
On October 24, 1971, Hughes collapsed unexpectedly near the end of a game against the Chicago Bears in Detroit.
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After Hughes was taken away by medical personnel, his teammates finished the final 62 seconds of play. He was still being revived in the hospital, but Ford Hospital declared him dead of a heart attack about an hour later. According to an old New York Times report, an autopsy revealed that Hughes had arteriosclerosis heart disease. Hughes had complained of chest and stomach pain before the tragedy, but after repeated testing, no doctor had discovered any signs of the condition.