Speaking out. Kelly Stafford, who is married to Los Angeles Rams’ quarterback Matthew Stafford, sent an emotional message to her fellow football significant others in the wake of Damar Hamlin’s collapse on the field.
“It’s ok not to be ok,” the 32-year-old registered nurse — who has frequently spoken out about the dangerous impact of the sport — wrote via Instagram on Tuesday, January 3.
“To all the women who have significant others playing on that field … I’m with you if you’re not ok. I’m not ok and I continue to ask myself the tough questions,” she continued. “I wish someone would promise us that the people we fell in love with will be those same people when they are finished playing this game, but we all know, this is a promise that can not be made.”
Kelly, who shares four daughters with Matthew, 34, noted that just because “we all know how hard our men work and have worked their whole lives to be on that field … [it] does not mean we always have to be the strong/never break support. It’s ok to be vulnerable and talk about it, especially with the man you love most.”
She concluded her message with a prayer for Hamlin, 24, who suffered cardiac arrest while tackling Cincinnati Bengals wide-receiver Tee Higgins during the Sunday, January 2 game between the Buffalo Bills and the Bengals. “Continuing to lift Damar up in prayer. Continuing to lift his family, friends, and teammates up in prayer. And I will continue to pray for all of you. It’s ok not to be ok.”
After the Bills safety suffered cardiac arrest during Sunday’s game, he underwent 10 minutes of CPR until his “heartbeat was restored on the field,” the Bills organization later said in a statement. He was then transported to the University of Cincinnati Medical Center, where he was “currently sedated and listed in critical condition.”
The NFL quickly came under fire after it was announced that the game was “temporarily suspended” amid the incident, before it was canceled.
Kelly has long been outspoken about the demand of the support and the health consequences that come with it. Two months before Hamlin’s collapse, Matthew was placed on “concussion protocol” twice in one month after suffering injuries to his head.
“If you follow NFL, you just heard Matthew got put into concussion protocol,” she wrote via her “Morning After” podcast’s Instagram Story in November 2022. “If you have listened to my podcast at all, you know how a big a deal it is to me. The head is not something to be messed with … and I hope as this sport develops, so does the concern for head health and the research around it.”
The podcast host added: “I have every emotion running through me. Concerned, angry, sad, tired … all of them.”
She was also adamant about changing the playing field — literally. “There should be no more turf for the health of these players,” Kelly wrote via Instagram at the time. “Not just their limbs, but more importantly their head health. There is a big difference when a helmet hits grass than when it hits turf.”