NFL | Jan 04, 2023

Bills safety Damar Hamlin in critical condition after suffering cardiac arrest

By Harry Bazley

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On January 2nd 2022, the Buffalo Bills were set to face off against the Cincinnati Bengals. However, the game was halted following a scary and serious incident involving Bills defensive back Damar Hamlin.

Update: Hamlin has “shown remarkable improvement”

Doctors at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center have reported that Damar Hamlin has “shown remarkable improvement” in the past 24 hours and appears to be “neurologically intact”, although the 24-year old remains "critically ill".

Two physicians caring for Hamlin stated that on Thursday he was "demonstrating signs of good neurological recovery" and was able to communicate in writing.

In a press conference on Thursday, Dr Tim Pritts said:

Last night he was able to emerge, follow commands and even ask who won the game. When we answered Damar when he asked who won the game we said, ‘Yes, you won. You won the game of life.'

Dr Tim Pritts

Hamlin’s agent, Ronald Butler, recently told The Associated Press that Hamlin was awake and has been able to grip the hands of family members at his hospital bedside, which is a reassuring sign to all of his family and friends and sports fans across the world.

The Buffalo Bills released this statement on the afternoon of January 5th.

Update: Bills-Bengals game officially cancelled

The NFL have officially stated that the Bills-Bengals game will not take place.

Despite having major playoff implications for the AFC, the NFL has rightfully prioritised the safety of the players once again and will not allow the teams to play this game.

The Bills needed to win to hold onto the top spot in the division, but the Kansas City Chiefs now sit atop the AFC. The Bengals could have earned the top seed with two more wins and a loss by the Chiefs, but scenarios presented by the competition committee attempt to resolve any unfair outcome as a result of the cancellation.

The resolution being presented to clubs for a vote on Friday 6th January follows:

The AFC Championship Game will be played at a neutral site if the participating teams played an unequal number of games and both could have been the No. 1 seed and hosted the game had all AFC clubs played a full 17-game regular season.

Those circumstances involve Buffalo or Cincinnati qualifying for the game as the away team.

  • If Kansas City and Buffalo both win or tie this weekend, the Bills-Chiefs AFC title game would take place at a neutral site.
  • If Buffalo and Kansas City both lose and Baltimore wins or ties, the Bills-Chiefs AFC title game would take place at a neutral site.
  • If Buffalo and Kansas City both lose and Cincinnati wins, Bills or Bengals against Kansas City in the AFC title game would be at a neutral site.

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After colliding with Bengals wide receiver Tee Higgins, Hamlin collapsed on the field and suffered a cardiac arrest. Medical personnel rushed to his side and immediately began administering CPR and using a defibrillator to try and revive him.

Hamlin's heartbeat was restored on the field, at which point he was placed into an ambulance and transported to the UC Medical Center nearby, where he received further testing and treatment. According to reports, he was in critical but stable condition as of January 3rd, but updates have been scarce following the incident.

The latest news is that Hamlin had to be resuscitated a second time upon arriving at the hospital and remains in a critical but stable condition at this time.

Damar Hamlin spent last night in the intensive care unit and remains there today in critical condition at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center. We are grateful and thankful for the outpouring of support we have received thus far.

Buffalo Bills Twitter

Hamlin's Uncle, Dorrian Glenn, told ESPN on Tuesday evening that Hamlin is sedated and "improving from where he was yesterday,"stating, "We are just going to continue to pray, and I know he is in great hands with the medical team he has here. They have been doing a tremendous job."

As the incident unfolded on the field, the game was stopped and later postponed as players and coaches were understandably too shocked and emotional to continue playing.

Bills offensive tackle Dion Dawkins said he realized the gravity of his teammate’s condition when Hamlin continued to stay on the ground as more and more medical staff were called over.

“In that moment, you’re just thinking like, ‘What can I do? What can we do?’ And it just immediately breaks you down into prayer,” Dawkins told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer. “Whether you’re a believer or not, only a higher power can really take control of what is next. And our people that help also assisted that higher power.”

The cancellation of the game was a tough decision for the NFL, but the safety and well-being of the players is always the top priority.

Several star athletes – including JJ Watt and Lebron James – have applauded the NFL’s decision to postpone the game.

Former NFL player Donté Stallworth said the league may have continued the game in previous years - “Five, ten years ago the game probably would have resumed,” he told CNN’s Jim Sciutto.

I don’t know if you can make the game any much safer. This is a brutal sport. I think people forget that. They look at players more as commodities sometimes - especially with fantasy football. Sometimes we forget the human side, that these players are actually human beings and they have families and they have wives and kids,” he added, pointing out that Hamlin’s “mother was there witnessing this with her own eyes.

Donté Stallworth

The incident has shed light on the importance of proper medical care in sports. NFL players are at a high risk for all forms of injury due to the physical nature of the sport, and the league has implemented various measures to ensure the safety of its players. However, this incident serves as a reminder that there is always room for improvement and that player safety should always be a top priority.

As of now, the focus is on Hamlin's recovery and the support of his family and teammates. The Bills have set up a fund to help cover any medical expenses and have expressed their love and support for Hamlin through social media and statements.

Bills quarterback Josh Allen is among the thousands of accounts that have shown support for Hamlin on Twitter.

The incident has touched the hearts of not only the Bills and Bengals organizations, but the entire football community. The league and its players have shown an outpouring of support for Hamlin and his family, and everyone is hoping for a speedy and full recovery.

In a statement Tuesday, released via Hamlin's friend Jordon Rooney, the player's family expressed gratitude for the prayers and millions of dollars in donations that have been given to Hamlin's toy drive foundation.

On behalf of our family, we want to express our sincere gratitude for the love and support shown to Damar during this challenging time. We are deeply moved by the prayers, kind words, and donations from fans around the country. We also want to acknowledge the dedicated first responders and healthcare professionals at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center who have provided exceptional care to Damar. We feel so blessed to be part of the Buffalo Bills organization and to have their support. We also want to thank Coach Taylor and the Bengals for everything they’ve done. Your generosity and compassion mean the world to us. Please keep Damar in your prayers. We will release updates as soon as we have them.

Jordon Rooney

As for the cancelled game, the NFL has not yet announced if and how it will be rescheduled, beyond stating that it will not take place this week, or during week 18, which could affect postseason outcomes.

What is certain is that the safety and well-being of the players will always take precedence over any game, and regardless of the potential effects on this year’s playoffs, Damar Hamlin’s health is all that matters.

Our thoughts and prayers are with Damar Hamlin and his family as he recovers.