Steelers linebacker Alex Highsmith received criticism for his mock CPR sack celebration during the team’s 28–14 win over the Browns due to perceived insensitivity.
Six days prior, Bills safety Damar Hamlin received CPR on the field after going into cardiac arrest during Monday Night Football. Though the celebration has been used in the past, some fans did not respond positively to the timing of Highsmith’s actions.
Highsmith has since clarified he didn’t mean to draw any connection between the celebration and Hamlin’s medical emergency. The linebacker told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on Monday that he was tired at that point in the game and didn’t think through the celebration.
“I just don’t want people to think of me that way and think I was doing anything [intentional],” Highsmith said. “Because I would never, ever, ever, ever want to do that intentionally, and I never ever would do that.”
Like the rest of the league, Highsmith admitted that Hamlin’s collapse on the field shook him up.
“I just want people to know that I have nothing but love for Damar and his family,” Highsmith said. “When that happened, I was shook for a couple days. Me and my wife, we were watching the game, we immediately saw it and intentionally started praying, intentionally prayed for him, his parents, the doctors, the nurses. … I just want people to know that there was nothing intentional about that. It was never planned, none of that.”
On Monday, Hamlin was transported from a hospital in Cincinnati, where he’d been for a week, to a hospital in Buffalo. The 24-year-old continues to recover as he reportedly was able to walk around the hospital before leaving.
He has stayed active on social media for the last few days as well, expressing how grateful he is for all the support around the league and from fans.