Reflections on Football: Damar Hamlin and the NFL

This past Sunday, as you probably know, Buffalo Bills player Damar Hamlin suffered an cardiac arrest during a football game.  He was rushed to the University of Cincinnati Medical Center, and remains in critical condition.  The most recent reports I read indicated that Mr. Hamilton is making slight improvements, though he remails in critical condition ( 
I felt so sad to read about this, as Mr. Hamlin is only 24 years old.  I started to think about how terrible this is that this happened to him, and how scary this must be for his parents.  As a parent myself, I empathize with how worried and scared his parents, and family, must be for him. I also started to think about how brutal football is as a sport, and yet, it’s our national past-time.  I am not a football fan, and I don’t know much about it.  I do have positive associations to it, since growing up, my father would watch football.  I have many memories of seeing my father, who works so hard at everything he does, delighting in watching football.  He still does.   Sundays were a day for relaxation, while my Dad would be watching football, my Mom was usually cooking or puttering around, and I would be playing, or,as I got older, doing homework. Football seemed to be part of our “Sunday tapestry” if you will, and I associate it with being with a relaxing day and being with family.  Sometimes I would come and watch with my Dad, and enjoyed this time with him.

As I got older, I have more mixed feelings about football.  It is a compelling game, and it can be exciting to watch.  Yet, it is so brutal, gladiator-esque at one level.  There has been so much written about how NFL players suffer so many injuries, that when they leave the game or retire, their body is so much older than their chronological age.  NFL players are at risk for concussions, and many other injuries.  And all for our entertainment.

Football is a compelling game to watch, yet the physical toll on NFL players is tremendous

I am not saying that it’s wrong to watch football, and that we shouldn’t watch it.  I just have mixed feelings about it.  Is this risk that NFL athletes face worth the brutality of the game? Money is the driving factor here; the NFL generates hundreds of millions of dollars, maybe even in the billions.  So there is that. 

It is my sincere hope that Mr. Hamlin makes a speedy, full recovery so he can go on to life a long, healthy life.  Come and meditate with me, and let’s send him and his family some positive energy.  I know I will feel better, and hopefully it might help Mr. Hamiln.  Of course,  let us turn jazz as well, to soothe our souls.

The colors of the Buffalo Bills, Mr. Hamlin’s team

Jazz Therapy Weekly Meditation: Meditation for Damar Hamilton

In this week’s meditation, we will:

-Send healing energy to Damar Hamilton that he make a full, speedy recovery

-Send positive energy to the family of Damar Hamilton

-Send positive energy to all NFL players, that they stay safe and healthy

Jazz Therapy Playlist and Musical Commentary: Honoring Damar Hamlin

This week, we feature the music of Milt Jackson, the legendary American vibraphonist, as his birthday is January 1st.  He was so talented, and the vibraphone is special and unique in jazz.  I hope you enjoy this list.

Emotional Dwelling (To Mirror Your Mood)

“How Long Blues,” Ray Charles and Milt Jackson, Soul Brothers/Soul Meeting, 1989

This song is so unique because we have Milt Jackson showcasing his virtuoso musicianship here.  Milton plays the vibraharp, (during Ray’s sax chorus and Pettiford’s 1st bass chorus:) and he also plays piano; Ray Charles plays the alto saxophone, piano; Billy Mitchell is on tenor saxophone; Skeeter Best is on guitar, Oscar Pettiford is on bass; Connie Kaye on drums.   (

This song is such a bluesy, yet swingin’ jazz tune as well.  And how unique that both Milt Jackson and Ray Charles are on double duty here-both play two instruments on this track.  That it just so cool. The result is, well, amazing. 

Emotional Elevation (To Feel Better)

“Things Are Getting Better,” Cannonball Adderley and Milt Jackson, Things Are Getting Better, 1959

The combination of Milt Jackson, and the preternaturally ebullient Cannonball Adderley, are irresistible in this tune.  Listen to it, and you will feel better.  We hope that Damar Hamlin continues to get better and that he makes a full recovery as well.

Emotional Transcendence (To Be Taken Beyond the Normal to the Divine)

“Stairway to the Stars-Alternative Take,” Milt Jackson and John Coltrane, Bags & Trane, 1961

This piece begins with a gentle introduction, and then Milt Jackson comes in and Coltrane.  We also hear Hank Jones on the piano, Paul Chambers, ever wonderful on the bass, and Connie Kay on the drums.  When I heard Coltrane come in with his solo, I closed my eyes and let the beauty of this song wash over me.  Truly incredible.

Jazz Birthdays Each week, we will highlight birthdays of jazz performers around the world.  We are grateful they exist!

Milt Jackson   (January 1, 1923 – October 9, 1999)

An American vibraphonist (who also played the piano and guitar), he was the preeminent American jazz vibraphonist and is considered one of the best vibraphonists of all time. He played with a light touch, yet could convey deep emotion through his artistry.

Thank you for reading! Leave us a comment, subscribe, and share.  May Jazz Therapy soothe your soul.


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