GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — As New England Patriots cornerback Isaiah Bolden lay on the field with a serious injury, his teammates couldn’t avoid thinking about Damar Hamlin.
New England’s preseason game with the Green Bay Packers was called off on Saturday night after Bolden was carted off the field early in the fourth quarter.
The incident came more than seven months after Hamlin — a Buffalo Bills safety — went into cardiac arrest and was resuscitated on the field after making what appeared to be a routine tackle against the Cincinnati Bengals on Jan. 2.
“Of course that’s in the back of all of our minds when something like that happens,” Patriots cornerback Jalen Mills said.
The Patriots said after the game that Bolden had feeling in all his extremities. Patriots spokesman Stacey James said late Saturday night that Bolden will be held overnight at a hospital in Green Bay for observation. The Patriots plan to provide an update on Bolden’s condition Sunday morning.
“We’re just keeping our fingers crossed,” Patriots coach Bill Belichick said.
Bolden, a seventh-round pick from Jackson State, appeared to collide with teammate Calvin Munson while attempting to make a hit on a pass completion to Malik Heath of the Packers.
“It looks like just one of those collision hits, those freak hits that you see on rare occasions in this league, that you hate to see,” Mills said.
“We really couldn’t see him too much. It looked like he was moving and his eyes were open, but as of right now, just asking everybody to keep him in their prayers and we hope for the best.”
As medical officials treated Bolden, both teams left their respective sidelines and got on the field, with some players getting on one knee.
After Bolden was carted off the field, the two teams conferred and decided not to continue the game. The game stopped with the Patriots leading 21-17 with 10:29 left in the fourth quarter.
“It’s a reminder of the fragility of life,” Patriots special teams player Matthew Slater said. “It’s not something we spend a lot of time thinking about, but the reality is all of us will have to wrestle with that at some point in time, every person who’s ever walked the face of this Earth. I think it’s unfortunate that it happens in this context and this setting because this is meant to be a joyful, celebratory experience.
“We’re playing a game. We’re doing what we love. We’re entertaining people. People are getting enjoyment out of our game. But it’s a reminder that things can turn on a dime.
“It’s something you have to put out of your head as a player because you can’t go out there with fear and hesitation, but the reality is things happen in life and certainly things happen in football all the time.”
Players from both teams said they were reminded of Hamlin’s injury.
“It brought out that Damar feeling, and that’s just scary,” Patriots wide receiver Kendrick Bourne said.
“That’s how it feels. It’s just praying for him that he’s OK. They said he was moving, he was responding pretty well. Kind of hurt in his neck a little bit. Looked like it was head to head, like a pile together. You just never know in those moments.”
Hamlin’s heart stopped as a result of commotio cordis, which is when a direct blow at a specific point in a heartbeat causes cardiac arrest.
Hamlin has since returned to the Bills and played in his hometown of Pittsburgh earlier in the day and had three tackles in a loss to the Steelers.
Given the similarities, both teams agreed there was no point in continuing the game.
“This is not the AFC championship,” Slater said. “We’re not playing for records. It’s preseason game two. When you have an injury like that, it affects a lot of guys in a lot of different ways. Clearly our team was shaken by what happened.”
Packers outside linebacker Kingsley Enagbare agreed.
“That definitely was a shocker and one of those things that you kind of get the chills, when you see someone kind of pretty much without motion on the football field,” Enagbare said.
“That’s never a good sign, but I guess it’s definitely for the best that the game ended the way it did. I know I was a little shook up, man.”
Players from both teams had connections to Bolden.
Slater called Bolden “a joy to be around” since the rookie arrived in New England. Heath grew up in Jackson, Miss., and knew Bolden from the cornerback’s Jackson State roots. Patriots quarterback Mac Jones said he’s known Bolden since they were both in high school.
“We played 7-on-7 football together,” Jones said. “Definitely one of my brothers.”
Now they’re hoping they can see him again as soon as possible.
“Just asking everybody to keep him in their prayers,” Mills said. “We hope for the best.”