clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Sam Darnold really did see a ghost, according to science and a ghost chat room

Experts weigh in.

Sam Darnold had a horrible evening on Monday Night Football, but you can’t blame the guy — he was just distracted by ghosts.

Skeptics will say he’s talking about the Patriots’ defense and how he was struggling to locate pass rushers, but I posit Darnold was being honest in that the 22-year-old quarterback was distracted by malicious spirits engaged in a macabre dance to throw him off his game.

First, I went to some experts.

We all know there’s only one good way to discuss ghosts: a chat room. I went undercover and created an account on “Paranormal Psychic Chat & Forums” to ask spirit-lovers around the world some hard-hitting ghost questions.

After several minutes of deliberation I settled on the perfect username.

At first nobody was really helpful, but persistence is the name of the game in ghost hunting.

How can a ghost appear in a football stadium with thousands of people in attendance without anyone seeing it? I needed answers.

According to these ghost-enthusiasts it was entirely possible Darnold saw a ghost while sitting on the bench, even in the middle of Monday Night Football, and they had a historical precedent to back up their claim, too.

I still didn’t feel like this was enough to close the case. I went to another chat room and got banned immediately for asking about Darnold. The ghost people know something, and they’re hiding it.

What does science have to say about this?

A 2015 article in Psychology Today explained the phenomenon of ghost sightings, and why individuals might feel like they’re seeing specters. It points to the concept of the “sensed presence,” a feeling that something is with you in moments of peril.

“The sensed presence usually happens to individuals who have become isolated in an extreme or unusual environment, often when high levels of stress are involved.”

  • Isolated: The Jets’ offensive line was worthless on Monday night. He was alone.
  • Extreme or unusual environment: The second Monday Night Football game of his career.
  • High levels of stress: Playing the Patriots in his second game back from a spleen injury.

Darnold possessed the three traits required to manifest the “sensed presence.” In other words: He was seeing ghosts.

However, there’s another possible scientific explanation here — agency detection. These mechanisms are biological holdovers that allow us to sense danger or predators in the wild. Some evolutionary psychologists suggest ghost sightings are due to heightened agency detection. A 2013 study titled “Supernatural Agency: Individual Difference Predictors and Situational Correlates” published in The International Journal for the Psychology of Religion found that individuals with higher degrees of empathy, or greater belief in their own subjectivity had an increased rate of seeing ghosts than those who didn’t.

Quarterbacks are naturally trained to develop a “sense” for where defenders are, and their sole importance in a football game is learned behavior. The perfect breeding ground for ghosts.

So, did Sam Darnold actually see ghosts?

Yes. There is currently scientific and anecdotal evidence supporting the core notion that Darnold did, in fact, see ghosts during Monday Night Football, and his comments weren’t a simple reference to the smothering nature of the Patriots’ defense.

We’re not closer to understanding how, or why — but one day I might wear down the ghost people in their chat room so they explain to me more fully why he was contacted by the kind of spirits that caused him to throw four interceptions on live TV.