The Pittsburgh Steelers have come under fire after they performed a mock CPR celebration during their win against the Cleveland Browns just days after the on-field cardiac arrest and collapse of Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin.
The Steelers beat the Browns 28-14 on Sunday, during which Steelers linebacker Alex Highsmith was on the receiving end of a mock CPR celebration after he tackled Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson in the fourth quarter.
The episode took place within a week of Mr Hamlin’s collapse against the Cincinnati Bengals during which he received CPR after he went into cardiac arrest following a collision.
Social media users were quick to criticise the Steelers for their celebration.
“Steelers defense celebrated a sack by performing CPR. Of all weeks… not a great look. Yikes,” Mike Gunz tweeted. “He obviously didn’t have any ill intention towards Hamlin. Just saying it happened and the timing wasn’t greatest.”
“Did a Steelers player just do CPR in a big play celebration?” Radio host Isaac Wenzel wrote.
Steelers defense celebrated a sack by performing CPR. Of all weeks… not a great look. Yikes. pic.twitter.com/ZvVPCwS6ya
— Gunz (@TheGunzShow) January 8, 2023
“You all are jumping to conclusions with my tweet here - I don’t think it was intentional just really bad timing,” he added to his followers.
Mr Highsmith has shared his support for Mr Hamlin’s recovery, tweeting on 2 January: “Praying!!!! Lord please be with Damar Hamlin right now”.
Classless Steelers with the CPR celebration pic.twitter.com/PT0hSPgwGN
— Ben Tylka (@tylkabm) January 8, 2023
Many teams honoured Mr Hamlin during games on Sunday.
“Did the @steelers defense really just do a CPR celebration???? How dense can you be?!” Ryan Niemiec wrote.
“Everyone throwing around Highsmith’s name he was on the ground when another did that to him. He did nothing wrong sure he has no clue that was coming,” one Twitter user said.
“I can’t be the only one who saw that #Steelers CPR celebration. Poor taste especially after the events of last week,” another added.
“Steelers doing CPR celebration on that sack, real classy fellas,” a third said.
“Steelers players doing a CPR skit... bit distasteful,” another wrote.
“Even if the Steelers ‘always do this’ or not, doing it in the same week that another player almost died and had to have CPR on field is about as insensitive as you can get,” Paul Crisp tweeted.