Who was Chuck Hughes? NFL star's widow recalls his on-field death amid Damar Hamlin tragedy

Who was Chuck Hughes? NFL star's widow recalls his on-field death amid Damar Hamlin tragedy
Chuck Hughes died at the age of 28 after suffering a similar accident to Damar Hamlin (@d.ham3/Instagram, Wikimedia Commons)

CINCINNATI, OHIO: The football world is visibly shaken after Monday night's game between the Buffalo Bills and Cincinnati Bengals. After NFL star player Damar Hamlin, 24, collapsed on the field and went into cardiac arrest, he was immediately rushed to the hospital. Fans and players were distraught after witnessing the horrific incident. The game was suspended for the evening. But there was someone who was even more shaken by the Damar Hamlin incident - Sharon Hughes, the widow of the late former Detroit Lions receiver Chuck Hughes.

Watching Bills safety Damar Hamlin suddenly collapse, brought back painful memories for Sharon Hughes, wife of the late NFL star. In 1971, star player Chuck Hughes was only 28 when he collapsed and died during a game against the Bears. Sharon Hughes, who is now 77, talked about what went through her mind when she saw Damar Hamlin collapse on the field during the game.

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“I was very emotional,” Sharon Hughes told NBC. Her thoughts turned to Damar Hamlin’s family. “Can you imagine how his mother felt?” Hughes asked. “It’s a horrifying feeling and, well, I just felt so sorry for the whole family last night.” Damar Hamlin is currently sedated after waking up in the hospital but remains in critical condition. ​The star player's injury come after he collapsed while tackling Tee Higgins and fell on his feet. However, he managed to stand up before shockingly passing out after a few seconds.

Who is Sharon Hughes?

Sharon Hughes is the wife of the only NFL player to ever die on the field during a game. Nearly five decades ago, Sharon Hughes was only 25 years old when she lost her husband Chuck Hughes, 28, in a blink of an eye. Chuck suffered a massive hit from two Bears defenders from Lions quarterback Greg Landry. At the time, Chuck allegedly got up and made a bride eye contact with Bears linebacker Dick Butkus, and collapsed, according to New York Post. An autopsy revealed the player had a clogged artery which he suffered during the hit. 

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Previously Chuck had also suffered from a heart attack the same season that had originally been characterized as a spleen injury, reported the source. “It’s like being in a time warp,” Sharon Hughes told reporter Les Carpenter in 2013. “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.” Sharon blamed his demise on genetics saying, “You can’t blame football.” she asserted, “I never did!”  

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