Indiana Colts player says Damar Hamlin knew ‘dream’ of being NFL star ‘comes with great sacrifice’


Indianapolis Colts safety Rodney McLeod Jr has said playing NFL is a ‘dream’ but it should never be at the ‘expense of anyone’s life.’

Mc Leod Jr, 32, admitted that playing the sport comes with ‘great sacrifice’ after Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin, 24, suffered a cardiac arrest on the field. 

Hamlin was immediately rushed to the hospital after being administered CPR on the field while surrounded by his horrified teammates.

He is currently in a critical condition in hospital, with the sporting world left shocked by his sudden deterioration after landing a tackle on Bengals receiver Tee Higgens.

Damar Hamlin’s family representative says the Buffalo Bulls player is ‘now sedated’ after waking up after suffering a cardiac arrest

Close friend and family rep Jordon Rooney told Good Morning America that the NFL star is a ‘fighter,’ but his family is ‘worried’

Close friend and family rep Jordon Rooney told Good Morning America that the NFL star is a ‘fighter,’ but his family is ‘worried’

By late Monday night, a community toy drive organized by Hamlin had surged to more than $3 million in donations

By late Monday night, a community toy drive organized by Hamlin had surged to more than $3 million in donations

Close friend and family rep Jordon Rooney told Good Morning America that the NFL star is a ‘fighter,’ but his family is ‘worried’. 

Rooney, who worked with Hamlin on a charity toy drive days before the incident, flew to Cincinnati after the news broke to be with his friend. 

He said: ‘I can’t speak specifically on his medical condition but I will say he’s fighting. He’s a fighter.

‘I needed to provide some clarity – he was awake at that time – now he is sedated.

‘The family is in good spirits, we’re just taking it minute by minute, hour by hour.

‘His family is strong, supportive. Obviously they are worried. Damar is very close with his family.’

Hamlin’s family were at the game when he collapsed and his mother Nina traveled with him to hospital in the ambulance.

The Buffalo Bills safety, who has set up charity toy drives to raise money for his local community, had tackled Bengals receiver Tee Higgens in the first quarter of the pivotal Monday night match.

He managed to get up briefly before falling backwards to the ground and laying motionless as an outpouring of support flooded in for the young player.

Bills fans and Bengals fans have both gathered on a corner about a block from the hospital’s emergency room after the incident took place.

Rooney, who Hamlin asked to work with as an intern, flew to Cincinnati after the news broke to be with his friend

Rooney, who Hamlin asked to work with as an intern, flew to Cincinnati after the news broke to be with his friend

The Buffalo Bills safety, who has set up charity toy drives to raise money for his local community, had tackled Bengals receiver Tee Higgens in the first quarter of the pivotal Monday night match

The Buffalo Bills safety, who has set up charity toy drives to raise money for his local community, had tackled Bengals receiver Tee Higgens in the first quarter of the pivotal Monday night match

Bills players were visibly stunned as their teammate received life-saving treatment on the field

Bills players were visibly stunned as their teammate received life-saving treatment on the field

Rooney added:‘I know Damar because I run a sports marketing agency and he reached out to me to be an intern for me. 

‘It’s pretty unique… he interned for me and we became super close partners in business together. We collaborate on a lot of things.

‘There’s definitely been a lot of fans [at the hospital], a lot of traction, people coming by. But what’s most important is to give the family their privacy.

‘A lot of times you don’t view [athletes] as human, you know you watch them on tv. It’s important to remember this is a person.’

He added that his vitals are ‘back to normal’ and are running tests on Hamlin to see what caused the sudden collapse.

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, who earns a base salary of $825,000, then wrapped his arms around Higgins’ shoulders and helmet to drag him down.

He managed to get up briefly before falling backwards to the ground and laying motionless as an outpouring of support flooded in for the young player

He managed to get up briefly before falling backwards to the ground and laying motionless as an outpouring of support flooded in for the young player

Hamlin pictured alongside mother Nina during his playing days as a kid - he said he chose to stay close to home when going to college so he could be near his family

Hamlin pictured alongside mother Nina during his playing days as a kid – he said he chose to stay close to home when going to college so he could be near his family

He was surrounded by players from both sides and treated for 16 minutes before being immobilized and taken off the field

He was surrounded by players from both sides and treated for 16 minutes before being immobilized and taken off the field 

The Bills player managed to get to his feet, adjusted his face mask with his right hand, and then fell backward about three seconds later and lay motionless.

He was surrounded by players from both sides and treated for 16 minutes before being immobilized and taken off the field.

While medical personnel were gathered around Hamlin, his playing uniform was cut off and was given oxygen. 

Players on both teams were visibly stunned by what had happened and many were in tears on the field.

Many players embraced, including quarterbacks Buffalo’s Josh Allen and Cincinnati’s Joe Burrow. The game was postponed by the NFL.

Higgens, the player who was tackled by Hamlin, led the outpouring of well wishes for the young player, tweeting that he ‘prays Hamlin will pull through’ as the player remains in critical condition at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center.

He said: ‘My prayers and thoughts go out to @HamlinIslandthe Hamlin Family. I’m praying that you pull through bro. Love.’

Medics ran onto the pitch to treat Hamlin after he collapsed on the floor following a tackle on Monday

Medics ran onto the pitch to treat Hamlin after he collapsed on the floor following a tackle on Monday

Fans gather for a vigil at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center for football player Damar Hamlin of the Buffalo Bills, who collapsed after making a tackle during the game against the Cincinnati Bengals on Monday in Cincinnati, Ohio

Fans gather for a vigil at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center for football player Damar Hamlin of the Buffalo Bills, who collapsed after making a tackle during the game against the Cincinnati Bengals on Monday in Cincinnati, Ohio 

The Bills later tweeted: ‘Damar Hamlin suffered a cardiac arrest following a hit in our game versus the Bengals.

‘His heartbeat was restored on the field and he was transferred to the UC Medical Center for further testing and treatment. He is currently sedated and listed in critical condition.’

Bills players were visibly upset and praying for their teammate after he was driven away by the ambulance.

Hamlin is incredibly close to his family – and footage from November 20 shows the player greeting his family and hugging his mom before Buffalo’s win over Cleveland.

His agent Ira Turner told NFL Network: ‘Please continue to pray for Damar and his family. We currently have no update at this time. Will ask that you keep the family in your prayers.’

Six-time Pro Bowl cornerback Troy Vincent, now an NFL executive, said: ‘I’ve never seen anything like it since I was playing.

‘Immediately, my player hat went on, like, how do you resume playing after seeing a traumatic event in front of you?’

During the match, the ESPN Monday Night Football broadcast cut to commercial on four occasions as Hamlin was receiving treatment.

After the ambulance had left the field, reports initially suggested the game was going to restart following a five-minute warm-up, prompting an outpouring of anger on social media.

Vincent said the league took no steps toward restarting the game and did not ask players to begin a five-minute warmup period

He added: ‘It never crossed our mind to talk about warming up to resume play. That’s ridiculous. That’s insensitive. That’s not a place we should ever be in.’

Hamlin (No 3) got on his feet briefly after making the tackle on Higgins before falling backwards in shocking scenes as the Buffalo Bills played Cincinnati Bengals

Hamlin (No 3) got on his feet briefly after making the tackle on Higgins before falling backwards in shocking scenes as the Buffalo Bills played Cincinnati Bengals

The Bills player then collapsed moments later, falling backwards and laying motionless on the floor

The Bills player then collapsed moments later, falling backwards and laying motionless on the floor

Hamlin is incredibly close to his family - and footage from November 20 shows the player greeting his family and hugging his mom before Buffalo's win over Cleveland

Hamlin is incredibly close to his family – and footage from November 20 shows the player greeting his family and hugging his mom before Buffalo’s win over Cleveland

A statement released by the league read: ‘Hamlin received immediate medical attention on the field by team and independent medical staff and local paramedics. He was then transported to a local hospital where he is in critical condition.

‘Our thoughts are with Damar and the Buffalo Bills. We will provide more information as it becomes available. 

‘The NFL has been in constant communication with the NFL Players Association which is in agreement with postponing the game.’

The harrowing incident on Monday night occurred just hours after the death of former Jacksonville Jaguars guard Uche Nwaneri from acute heart failure at the age of 38.

Nwaneri collapsed at his wife’s home in West Lafayette, Indianapolis, and could not be saved.

Fans gather outside University of Cincinnati Medical Center on Monday in Cincinnati, where Buffalo Bills' Damar Hamlin was taken after collapsing on the field during an NFL football game against the Cincinnati Bengals.

Fans gather outside University of Cincinnati Medical Center on Monday in Cincinnati, where Buffalo Bills’ Damar Hamlin was taken after collapsing on the field during an NFL football game against the Cincinnati Bengals.

Cam Lewis and Siran Neal of the Buffalo Bills react in shock to teammate Hamlin collapsing

Cam Lewis and Siran Neal of the Buffalo Bills react in shock to teammate Hamlin collapsing

She reportedly found him unresponsive in a bedroom and called 911 with an autopsy showing no indication of foul play.

Emotions ran high for ESPN’s broadcast crew, as analyst Booger McFarland oexplaiend that this was a ‘life or death’ situation.

He added: ‘When you bring CPR out, you’re trying to help someone breathe. That’s real.

‘What we do is just a game. When you involve life and death, it’s totally different.’

ESPN Senior NFL Insider Adam Schefter weighed in as well, saying: ‘It is all about this young man and how he’s doing.

‘Everybody is thinking and praying for him, every team, every player, every individual, everybody who’s watching Monday night football, everybody who tuned in to see this highly anticipated game, nobody cares about that right now.’

Footage emerged later of Hamlin’s ambulance arriving at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center.

Isaiah McKenzie grabs his jersey as he reacts to Hamlin's injury

Isaiah McKenzie grabs his jersey as he reacts to Hamlin’s injury

Buffalo Bills players collapse in anguish after Hamlin suffered cardiac arrest during Monday night's game

Buffalo Bills players collapse in anguish after Hamlin suffered cardiac arrest during Monday night’s game

Fans gather for a vigil at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center for football player Damar Hamlin of the Buffalo Bills on Monday

Fans gather for a vigil at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center for football player Damar Hamlin of the Buffalo Bills on Monday

The aftermath of the injury was reminiscent of when Bills tight end Kevin Everett lay motionless on the field after making a tackle on the second-half opening kickoff in Buffalo’s 2007 season-opening game against the Denver Broncos.

Everett sustained a spinal cord injury that initially left him partially paralyzed.

Hamlin spent five years of college at Pittsburgh – his hometown – and appeared in 48 games for the Panthers over that span.

He was a second-team All-ACC performer as a senior, was voted a team captain and was picked to play in the Senior Bowl.

The Bills drafted him in the sixth round in 2021, played in 14 games as a rookie and then became a starter this year once Micah Hyde was lost for the season to injury.

By late Monday night, a community toy drive organized by Hamlin had surged to more than $3 million in donations. His stated goal was $2,500.

Bills quarterback Josh Allen is surrounded by his teammates after his teammate was injured

Bills quarterback Josh Allen is surrounded by his teammates after his teammate was injured 

Fans gather for a vigil at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center for football player Damar Hamlin of the Buffalo Bills, who collapsed after making a tackle during the game against the Cincinnati Bengals on Monday in Cincinnati, Ohio

Fans gather for a vigil at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center for football player Damar Hamlin of the Buffalo Bills, who collapsed after making a tackle during the game against the Cincinnati Bengals on Monday in Cincinnati, Ohio

Hamlin spent five years of college at Pittsburgh - his hometown - and appeared in 48 games for the Panthers over that span

Hamlin spent five years of college at Pittsburgh – his hometown – and appeared in 48 games for the Panthers over that span

A video emerged Monday night of Hamlin participating in the toy drive for children during his time at Pitt, in which the budding player spoke up about his reasons for giving back.

He said: ‘Just seeing role models in person. I feel like that’s big in kids’ lives and that’s something that we haven’t always had in Pittsburgh.

‘Just being younger and seeing the difference from some people that had that role models in their life.

‘It could be you all you have to do is just work hard, stay focused. I’m thankful that I can even be in this position to give back.’

Hamlin also created ‘The Chasing M’s Foundation’ to ‘positively impact the community that raised me,’ with the charity’s first program a toy drive for the holidays in December 2020.

Buffalo Bills players and staff pray for Buffalo Bills' Damar Hamlin after he collapsed

Buffalo Bills players and staff pray for Buffalo Bills’ Damar Hamlin after he collapsed 

He explained his motivation for giving back on the toy drive's GoFundMe page, with his third annual toy drive being held last week.

He explained his motivation for giving back on the toy drive’s GoFundMe page, with his third annual toy drive being held last week.

A video emerged Monday night of Hamlin participating in the toy drive for children during his time at Pitt, in which the budding player spoke up about his reasons for giving back

A video emerged Monday night of Hamlin participating in the toy drive for children during his time at Pitt, in which the budding player spoke up about his reasons for giving back

He explained his motivation for giving back on the toy drive’s GoFundMe page, with his third annual toy drive being held last week.

‘As I embark on my journey to the NFL, I will never forget where I come from and I am committed to using my platform to positively impact the community that raised me,’ he said.

This campaign gives you the opportunity to contribute to our first initiative and positively impact children who have been hardest hit by the pandemic.

‘Thank you so much for supporting me on and off the field. I am grateful to have the opportunity to work with you to help make the holiday season a little brighter for the kids in our community.’

Initially set for a goal of $2,500, the page was flooded with donations on Monday after news of his serious injury, with the page having $2.6million in donations at the time of writing.

That’s nearly double Hamlin’s base salary of $825,000 for this season.

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk