Tragedy in the NFL is nothing new. Thankfully, scenes like the one that involved Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin do not happen often, but they do. Family, friends, teammates and fans hope and continue to hope and pray that Hamlin has a full recovery. The horrible scenes from Monday night drudged up terrible memories for a widow of an NFL player from a game that happened over 51 years ago.

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During a game against the Chicago Bears at Tiger Stadium on October 24, 1971, Detroit Lions wide receiver Chuck Hughes was walking back to his team’s huddle after a play. According to Keith Dunlap of click2Houston.com, one play earlier, Hughes was crushed by two Chicago Bears, including Hall of Fame linebacker Dick Butkus, while going up for a pass. There was about a minute remaining in the 4th quarter and the Lions were trailing 28-23, when suddenly Hughes collapsed on the field near the sideline.

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Like Damar Hamlin's family, the young wife of Chuck Hughes, Sharon, was in the stands watching. According to nypost.com, Sharon Hughes told reporter Les Carpenter in 2013. “It’s like being in a time warp. You know you are there but you are floating in the ether. I don’t know, what is it? Denial? Here I’m 25, he’s 28, you think you can do anything you want to and you never consider the alternative, which is death. Death took place unexpectedly; you have a loss of consciousness. You are just floating.” After having those memories brought back by the events of Monday night, Sharon Hughes told nypost.com, “I was very emotional. Can you imagine how his mother felt? It’s a horrifying feeling and, well, I just felt so sorry for the whole family...”

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According to nypost.com, after Chuck Hughes collapsed on that fateful day in 1971, Bears linebacker Dick Butkus frantically motioned to the Lions sideline for medical assistance. Hughes was removed from the field on a stretcher. He was put into an ambulance with his wife Sharon by his side. The game resumed to its conclusion with the Bears defeating the Lions 28-23. Later that day, at 5:41pm, Chuck Hughes was pronounced dead.

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The autopsy said that Chuck Hughes had a pre-existing heart condition. Apparently, one of his arteries was 75 percent clogged and that a blood clot had broken loose. It is a tragedy that could have happened anywhere but it happened on an NFL field. Football can be a dangerous game and millions of us, including Sharon Hughes, were reminded of that on Monday night. Thoughts, prayers and well wishes to Damar Hamlin and his family.

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