On Jan. 2, Damar Hamlin, a safety for the Buffalo Bills, collapsed and went into cardiac arrest on the field during a game against the Cincinnati Bengals following his tackle of Bengal’s wide receiver Tee Higgins. The athletic trainers restored his heartbeat on the field before an ambulance transported him to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center. The Bill’s head coach, Sean McDermott, credited Denny Kellington, the team’s assistant athletic trainer who administered critical CPR, with saving Hamlin’s life. McDermott noted, “For an assistant to find himself at that position and needing to take the action that he did and step up and take charge like he did — and there were others on the field as well — is nothing short of amazing…And the courage that took — you talk about a real leader, a real hero in saving Damar’s life, [I] just admire his strength.”
During his hospital stay, Hamlin underwent extensive medical testing, including cardiac, neurological, and vascular testing, before his release nine days later. Dr. Jamie Nadler, the care team lead for Hamlin, explained, “We have completed a series of tests and evaluations, and in consultation with the team physicians, we are confident that Damar can be safely discharged to continue his rehabilitation at home and with the Bills.”
The Bills honored Hamlin throughout their game against the New England Patriots on Jan. 12. Bills players arrived at the field sporting Hamlin-inspired merchandise, many adorned with his number, three. Additionally, during pregame, announcers honored the medical staff who saved Hamlin’s life on the field. When the Bills’ players entered the field, they appeared carrying “pray for Hamlin” flags as well as pregame shirts that read “Love of Damar 3.” The “3” in each 30-yard line marking was even outlined in either Buffalo Bills Red or Buffalo Bills Blue.
Bills cornerback and one of Hamlin’s hometown friends, Dane Jackson, explained, “Just as a player, as that being our brother and him being so close, you’re just wondering is he going to be all right in the end…So once we got updates and once we got feedback, it just started to make us feel a little better.” Similarly, Bills quarterback Josh Allen shared, “You lose sleep. You’re hurt for your brother. A lot of shared grief but, to the question before, getting updates and positive updates eases so much of that pain and that tension that you feel.” Allen additionally commended McDermott for how he approached the situation and spoke to the team afterward.
Hamlin continues his remarkable recovery, and his health has improved to the point where he could visit his teammates at the Bills training facility for the first time after his release from the Buffalo hospital on Saturday, Jan. 14.