Damar Hamlin has shared the first image of himself from his hospital bed, six days after suffering an on-field cardiac arrest during the Bills-Bengals primetime game.
Hamlin remains in a critical condition in Cincinnati, but is continuing to make positive progress and was able to sit up in bed to watch his teammates take to the field in their final regular-season game against the New England Patriots. The Bills recorded a 35-23 win.
Sitting alongside his family while wearing a t-shirt which read ‘Love for Damar’, Hamlin posted an image and showed himself making a love symbol with his hands.
420 miles north, the Bills took to the field without their safety, but instantly put a smile on his face by scoring an incredible 96-yard kickoff return touchdown to begin the game.
Taking to Twitter again, Hamlin posted ‘OMFG!!!!!’, delighted at the start his friends and colleagues had made against the Patriots.
Just minutes earlier, he had claimed there is ‘nothing he wants more than to be running out of the tunnel’ with his team at Highmark Stadium.
Damar Hamlin has shared the first image of himself from his hospital bed in Cincinnati
Hamlin claimed there is ‘nothing he wants more than to be running out of the tunnel’ with his teammates as the Bills prepare to take to the field for the first time since his collapse
He revealed that he desperately wants to be taking to the field with his ‘brothers’ but insisted that God is using him ‘in a different way today.’
He shared a video of him running out of the tunnel during a previous Bills game and wrote: ‘GameDay.. Nothing I Want More Than To Be Running Out That Tunnel With My Brothers. God Using Me In A Different Way Today. Tell Someone You Love Them Today! let’s go @BuffaloBills.’
The Bills honored Hamlin before their game against the Patriots in multiple ways as he watched on from his hospital bed.
The 24-year-old took to Twitter to support his teammates ahead of their Week 18 game
Despite wanting to be with his ‘brothers’, Hamlin said God was using him in a different way
Multiple members of the team, including quarterback Josh Allen, arrived at Highmark Stadium wearing Hamlin-inspired sweatshirts or jerseys and caps with Hamlin’s jersey number – three – on the front.
During pregame introductions, there was a special acknowledgement for the medical staff who helped save Hamlin’s life.
The Bills team then came out of the tunnel waving ‘Pray for Damar’ flags and collectively held up three fingers as they gathered in a midfield huddle.
Buffalo also wore a special ‘3’ patch on their jerseys as they faced New England at home.
Those gestures came in addition to a league-wide initiative to support Hamlin, which included teams holding a pregame moment to honor the safety and medical staff, outlining the number three in each 30-yard line number on the field in either Buffalo Bills Red or Buffalo Bills Blue, and pregame shirts reading ‘Love for Damar 3.’
Bills players came out of the tunnel waving ‘Pray for Damar’ and number three flags
A moment of support was held before the game as Buffalo also honored medical staff
Teams throughout the league also highlighted the number three in each 30-yard line number
While Hamlin is unable to take to the field as he continues his recovery following the traumatic events of Monday, he will still be receiving his wages in full.
The Bills unsurprisingly placed Hamlin on injured reserve Friday but plan to pay him in full in a show of support.
Hamlin’s four-year, $3.64 million rookie contract contains a standard clause that would allow Buffalo to pay him at a lower rate if he ended up on the IR list.
But the organization has worked out an agreement with the NFL and the NFL Players Association to pay him his wages in full this week, according to Ian Rapoport.
The defensive back reportedly was set to earn $825,000 in 2022, with his split rate on injured reserve at $455,000, meaning there would be a difference of $20,555.56 for one week.
But following the Bills’ agreement, Hamlin will earn the same amount this week, despite not being on the active roster.
Hamlin’s Game Day tweet comes after he took to social media for the first time since his cardiac arrest to thank fans for their support in an emotional statement on Saturday evening.
Hamlin spoke out on social media for the first time since his cardiac arrest on Saturday
The Bills safety wrote on Instagram: ‘When you put real love out into the world it comes back to you 3x’s as much.
‘The love has been overwhelming but I’m thankful for every single person that prayed for me and reached out. We brung (sic) the world back together behind this.
‘If you know me you know this only gona make me stronger. On a long road keep praying for me.’
He put out a similar message on Twitter, writing: ‘Putting love into the world comes back 3xs as much… thankful for everyone who has reached out and prayed.
‘This will make me stronger on the road to recovery, keep praying for me!’
The AMR ambulance was painted in Buffalo red and blue in honor of the defensive end
Buffalo Bills fans showed support for Hamlin by holding up his name in the stands at the game
A fan holds a sign in support of Hamlin before the Bills’ game against the Patriots Sunday
Hamlin collapsed and had to be resuscitated on the field after suffering a cardiac arrest following a tackle with Cincinnati Bengals’ Tee Higgins during the first quarter of the Monday Night Football matchup.
On the play the 6-foot, 200-pound Hamlin was injured, Higgins led with his right shoulder, which hit the defensive back in the chest. Hamlin then wrapped his arms around Higgins’ shoulders and helmet to drag him down.
Hamlin quickly got to his feet, appeared to adjust his face mask with his right hand, and then fell backward about three seconds later and lay motionless.
The Bills safety was surrounded by players from both sides and treated for 16 minutes before being immobilized and taken off the field to hospital.
Although he remains in critical condition, Hamlin has shown encouraging signs in recent days.
Hamlin is pictured with his mum, Nina, before a Pitts game against Boston College in 2019
Doctors said Saturday that his neurological function is ‘excellent’ and he is now breathing without a tube.
The Bills released the details Saturday, with the statement on their official Twitter account reading: ‘Per the physicians at UC Medical Center, Damar is making continued progress in his recovery yet remains in critical condition.
‘He continues to breathe on his own and his neurological function is excellent.’
The Bills were given a big surprise on Friday when Hamlin spoke to them via FaceTime, saying ‘love you boys’ and flexing his arm muscles following the removal of his breathing tube.
Bills head coach Sean McDermott spoke to the press after the interaction with Hamlin and attempted to describe the scene to reporters, but admitted he ‘probably won’t be able to do it justice.’
Bills head coach Sean McDermott revealed the team had received a FaceTime from Hamlin
‘Amazing, touching, to see Damar,’ McDermott began. ‘No. 1, through my own eyes. I know that’s something I’ve been looking forward to, kind of needing to see I guess. And then to watch the reaction in the room with the players and the staff and the team.’
The NFL confirmed earlier this week that the pivotal game between the Bills and the Bengals would not be resumed with adjustments being made to the playoffs in the instance that the cancellation affects the AFC Championship game.
However, while the MNF showdown will not be continued, the league’s entire Week 18 slate has gone ahead with the Bills facing the Patriots Sunday.
In the team’s first media availability since his collapse, McDermott claimed that the Bills ‘owed’ it to Hamlin to play Sunday’s game.
When pressed on why his team have to play this weekend, McDermott revealed that Hamlin’s dad Mario had told them it is what his son would want.
He said: ‘I feel strongly that as his dad Mario had mentioned to us, that this is what Damar would have wanted. We owe that to Damar and to his family.’
The Titans and Jaguars came together as one to pray for Hamlin before their Saturday game
The Kansas City Chiefs and the Jacksonville Jaguars already played Saturday with both clinching victories over the Las Vegas Raiders and Tennessee Titans respectively.
Before kickoff in Saturday’s late game, the Titans and Jaguars came together as one to pray for Hamlin in the middle of the field during their warmup.
Hamlin took to Twitter again, minutes after, to say: ‘The love is felt, & extremely real.
‘No matter race or religion everybody coming together in prayer!’