Football mom thinks ‘what if’ every time her son steps on field

Published: Jan. 3, 2023 at 11:16 PM EST
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - Fans gathered for a vigil outside the University of Cincinnati Medical Center, where NFL player Damar Hamlin is in critical condition.

The player collapsed during Monday’s game against the Bengals after a tackle.

Medics performed CPR for more than nine minutes on the field before an ambulance rushed him to the hospital.

The 24-year-old went into cardiac arrest and is in critical condition.

In a statement, the Hamlin family is asking for everyone to come together to pray for their family. The vigil started at 8:55 p.m., the same time Hamlin went down during the game.


This is a story with ripple effects across the country. It’s a scene any parent of a football player dreads, and Monday night hit close to home for a local mom.

Bridgett Canteen is a football mom who says every time she sees her son in uniform, the thought goes through her mind, what if?

“I had dozed off. And when I woke up, I was like, what is going on? And when I saw what had happened, I mean, honestly, I cried. I mean, because that could have been my baby,” she said.

The moment brought Canteen back to the moment her son Derrick tore his pectoral muscle playing football for Georgia Southern.

“In 2021 is when he had his first serious injury that made me lose my breath. I mean, just seeing him out there on that football field and seeing my baby injured with a torn pictorial muscle, just really sent me to another world,” said Canteen.

Even though Derrick’s football career has been successful, she wasn’t always a fan.

“When Derrick was at the age of five years old, my husband was getting ready to get deployed and wanting him to play football, and I was totally against it,” she said.

She says the fear of something like this is what held her back.

“In the back of your mind, you know, you still have that fear and you don’t want anything to happen, not only to your son but anybody else’s son,” said Canteen.

Accidents like Hamlin’s are rare but being ready for them can be the difference in life and death.

Dr. Jeff Winterfield is the chief of electrophysiology at the Medical University of South Carolina. He said, “Fortunately, it’s very rare, and I think this entire case highlights the critical need for recognizing cardiac arrest very quickly and responding quickly with excellent bystander CPR.”

Canteen says football is a sacrifice. But it’s the love of the game that outweighs the risk.

“It’s a lot of sacrificing not only for the family but also for that individual. If you’re not willing to stand behind them and support them, as far as the sacrifices that they have to make, I say don’t do it,” she said.