ORCHARD PARK, NY (AP) — Bill’s safety Damar Hamlin prepares to play against Indianapolis in Buffalo’s season opener on Saturday. This would be the first time he has returned to the field in a competitive environment since suffering cardiac arrest and requiring CPR off the field during a game in Cincinnati.
After coach Sean McDermott said Thursday he would be addressing Hamlin’s game status “on a day-to-day basis,” he later told The Associated Press that Hamlin was “scheduled to play.”
Here’s a look at Hamlin’s journey back:
Early in Buffalo’s Week 17 game in Cincinnati, Hamlin attempted to attack Bengals wide receiver Tee Higgins in a routine game. Higgins’ right shoulder caught Hamlin in the chest before Hamlin wrapped his arms around Higgins’ shoulders and helmet to pull him to the ground.
Hamlin stood up quickly, seemed to adjust his face mask with his right hand, then fell back and lay motionless on the field. He received nearly 20 minutes of medical attention in the field, including CPR, before being rushed to the University of Cincinnati Medical Center by ambulance.
The game was delayed before being abandoned while the Bills flew home while Hamlin was still in the hospital.
The Bills said Hamlin remains in critical condition and was sedated in hospital, acknowledging his heart stopped on the field before it was restored.
Players from across the league expressed their support for Hamlin, and fans held vigils in Cincinnati and outside the Bills’ home stadium in Orchard Park, New York. A GoFundMe page for Hamlin’s children’s toy drive received approximately $5.5 million in donations in the first 24 hours after his injury.
While Hamlin remained in critical condition and under sedation, the team said he had shown signs of improvement and was expected to remain in intensive care.
Hamlin began to wake up late at night.
Doctors said Hamlin had begun communicating in writing with family and others at his bedside, adding that his first question was, “Did we win?”
The NFL said it would not resume play and presented playoff scenarios to compensate for the cancellation, which owners approved the next day.
Hamlin was taken off a ventilator. Hamlin was breathing on his own and could speak. He joined a Bills team meeting via video conference and told his teammates, “Love you guys.”
McDermott said the players stood up and clapped for Hamlin.
Doctors described Hamlin’s neurological function as “excellent” and added that he remains in critical condition, having made great strides in his recovery a day earlier.
NFL games resumed with Hamlin honors in stadiums across the country. His number 3 has been seen across the league, depicted on 30-yard lines on playing fields, worn on special patches on the Bills’ uniforms and featured on jackets and sweatshirts, and even on red hearts dangling from the back tents outside their home stadium .
Buffalo defeated New England 35-23, a win that began with a 96-yard kickoff return for a touchdown by Nyheim Hines in the game’s opening game, which drew an excited tweet from Hamlin.
Hamlin was discharged from the Cincinnati hospital and flown to west New York for further treatment, where his condition was stable at Buffalo General Medical Center/Gates Vascular Institute.
Hamlin was discharged from the Buffalo hospital after doctors said they had completed testing and were confident he could be safely discharged.
Hamlin visited his teammates at the Bills’ facility for the first time since I was discharged from the hospital.
Hamlin celebrated his team’s playoff victory against Miami the following day from home.
Hamlin made his first public appearance since suffering cardiac arrest, waving to fans from a stadium suite during the Bills’ home playoff game against the Bengals.
Hamlin made several appearances in Phoenix during Super Bowl week.
On February 8, he won the NFLPA’s Alan Page Community Award, which recognizes a player who goes above and beyond in their team city and/or hometown, and provides community service, and his endowment received $100,000.
Two days later, he joined the first responders who helped save his life on stage at the NFL Honors. He appeared on the field ahead of the Super Bowl on February 12 and joined members of the medical staff at the Bills, Bengals and UC Medical Center.
On March 29, Hamlin appeared with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, DN.Y., and Rep. Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick, D-Fla., to discuss a bill that would increase access to defibrillators in public elementary and secondary schools schools would improve.
The next day, he met with President Joe Biden, who tweeted that “Hamlin’s courage, resilience and spirit inspired the American people.”
After general manager Brandon Beane announced Hamlin’s intention to return, Hamlin made it clear that he wants to play football again.
The Professional Football Writers of America honored Hamlin by selecting him as the winner of the 2023 George Halas Award, presented to an NFL player, coach or staff member who overcomes adversity to succeed.
Hamlin was allowed to train again for the first time and take part in individual exercises.
Hamlin attended his first full workout, which he celebrated by calling his parents. “I’m fine,” Hamlin told The Associated Press as he left the field.
3RD OF JUNE
Hamlin embarked on a multi-city tour at Bills Stadium to distribute medical supplies and promote CPR training. Stations in New York City, Pittsburgh and Cincinnati followed.
A bill to install automatic external defibrillators in all Ohio schools, athletic and recreational facilities passed the Republican-dominated House of Representatives with overwhelming bipartisan support in honor of Hamlin.
Hamlin sent prayers to NBA star LeBron James’ eldest son, Bronny, who was hospitalized after suffering a cardiac arrest while training at the University of Southern California. Hamlin tweeted, “Also praying to Bronny and the James family (prayer emoji) here for you as you have been for me throughout the process.” A few days later, James was discharged from the hospital.
Hamlin put his fears and feelings aside by getting dressed and taking a few hits at the Bills’ first full-service training camp. “This is just another milestone in the journey – possibly one of the biggest,” said Hamlin. “My faith is stronger than any fear.”