Did Tua Tagovailoa’s Concussions or Damar Hamlin’s Injury Hurt NFL More?

A Morning Consult survey was conducted after Hamlin's incident three weeks ago

Tua Tagovailoa warms up against the San Francisco 49ers. Did the quarterback's concussions or Damar Hamlin's near-fatal injury hurt the NFL more?
Tua Tagovailoa couldn't finish the season due to concussions.
Thearon W. Henderson/Getty

Though it feels like much longer given everything that has occurred in the NFL and the postseason since Damar Hamlin went into cardiac arrest after making a tackle on Monday Night Football, it was just three weeks ago that the Buffalo Bills safety was injured on national television against the Cincinnati Bengals.

Hamlin, thankfully, is now in stable condition and was healthy enough to attend Buffalo’s 27-10 loss to Cincinnati in Sunday’s AFC divisional round playoff game, but the memory of what happened to him will be difficult to forget. Or will it?

According to a new Morning Consult survey that was conducted after Hamlin’s incident three weeks ago, football fans’ opinion about how “safe” playing the game is actually shifted in a positive direction after watching what happened on the field in Cincinnati three weeks ago. When asked how safe or unsafe football is, about two in five NFL fans (39%) said football is “safe.” That’s actually an increase compared with a previous survey that was conducted after Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa suffered multiple concussions in October that found just 34% of fans said football is “safe.”

“The results illustrate that the news surrounding Tagovailoa’s series of head injuries likely harmed the NFL’s reputation more than did the near-fatal situation with Hamlin,” per Morning Consult.

Safe or not, football is still king when it comes to ratings as NFL games made up 82 of the top 100 most-watched U.S. TV broadcasts in 2022. That matches with a finding from the recent Morning Consult survey that determined the majority of NFL fans felt the Hamlin incident would only have a “minor impact” on their interest in watching professional football. While the ratings from this weekend’s four games have yet to be released, they will almost certainly be huge and bear out the survey’s results.

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