Sports presenter prays live on TV for NFL player after cardiac arrest

Dan Orlovsky prays live on ESPN

Christians often “bag” the media when they sideline faith, so here’s a shoutout to ESPN’s Dan Orlovsky who prayed for the injured US footballer Damar Hamlin live on the major sports network.

“This is a little bit different. I’ve heard it all day. ‘Thoughts and prayers,’” Orlovsky began. “Maybe this is not the right thing to do but it’s just on my heart that I wanna pray for Damar Hamlin right now. I’m gonna do it out loud, I’m gonna close my eyes, I’m gonna bow my head and I’m just gonna pray for him.

““God, we come to you in these moments that we don’t understand, that are hard, because we believe that you’re God and coming to you and praying to you has impact. We’re sad, we’re angry, we want answers, but some things are unanswerable. We just want to pray, truly come to you and pray for strength for Damar, for healing for Damar, for comfort for Damar, to be with his family, to give him peace.

““If we didn’t believe that prayer didn’t work we wouldn’t ask this of you God. I believe in prayer. We believe in prayer. We lift up Damar Hamlin’s name in your name. Amen.”

Orlovsky’s two co-hosts joined in saying amen.

The New York Times Ruth Graham pointed out that a prayer circle – common at the end of American football games – formed after Hamlin went into cardiac arrest during the game between the Buffalo Bills (his team) and the Cincinnati Bengals.

“As the ambulance carrying the injured Buffalo Bills player Damar Hamlin rolled slowly off the field in Cincinnati Monday night, a huddle of players and team staff knelt in a massive yet intimate circle on the field,” Graham wrote. “They bowed their heads, some placing hands on each other’s shoulders and others with tears streaming down their faces, in a moment of spontaneous prayer led by the team’s chaplain, Len Vanden Bos. The hushed crowd at Paycor Stadium burst into applause as the players knelt and again as they rose.”

Her story explored the deep connection between Christianity and that particular football code. The closest we come to that in Australian is the Pacifica players in the NRL.

Graham quotes an expert from Baylor University, a Baptist institution. “It’s an example of seeing in public a Christian subculture that’s been embedded in the N.F.L. for four decades,” said Paul Putz, assistant director of the Faith & Sports Institute at Baylor University. “Since the 1970s, it’s had almost like its own church.”

As with top level teams in Australia, NFL teams have chaplains, usually evangelical Christians.

Joseph Kennedy a high school coach lost his job at Bremerton, Washington State, for praying on the field at the end of each game, but won a landmark Supreme Court case last year. The Court ruled that Kennedy was free to pray publicly. “”We are aware of no historically sound understanding of the Establishment Clause that begins to ‘(make) it necessary for government to be hostile to religion’ in this way,” wrote Associate Justice Neil Gorsuch in the court’s majority opinion.