Sharon Hughes stayed awake as late as she could Monday night, forcing her eyes open. The widow of the only NFL player to die on the field during a game, she needed to know that history was not repeating itself. She needed to hear that Damar Hamlin was still alive.

Hamlin, 24, a safety with the Buffalo Bills, was in critical condition after he went into cardiac arrest during Monday night’s game against the Cincinnati Bengals. His medical episode stunned fans in the stadium and those watching on television, including Hughes, who saw Hamlin stand up after having taken a hit to the chest, walk a couple of shaky steps and then collapse on his back.

“I was very emotional,” Hughes, 77, said Tuesday from her Texas home.

Hughes said she felt an immediate bond with Hamlin’s family watching the events unfold Monday.

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