Damar Hamlin continues to post astonishing progress as he recovers from the cardiac arrest he suffered less than three weeks ago.
Hamlin is the 24-year-old Bills safety who collapsed on the field the night of Jan. 2 in the first quarter of Buffalo’s road game against the Bengals. An assistant athletic trainer performed CPR and shocked his heart in order to get back Hamlin’s pulse. The situation looked dire as he coded again in the emergency room of a downtown Cincinnati hospital.
Now, he’s one of the most inspiring, heartwarming stories this NFL season. According to Buffalo coach Sean McDermott, Damar Hamlin now is coming to the Bills complex on a near daily basis. He’s almost to the point where he could begin attending meetings.
“It’s limited, just overall,” McDermott told reporters this week on how much Hamlin is doing. “But he comes in just trying to get back to a little bit of a routine, and just get himself acclimated again, and taking it one step, one baby step at a time here.”
Given how close Hamlin came to dying on the field at Paycor Stadium, baby steps are a beautiful sight. Although he may be limited in what he can do physically, Hamlin is posting on social media and conducting meetings on the phone. On Thursday morning, the safety spoke to New York Gov. Kathy Hocul via phone.
Earlier, the governor tweeted: “This morning I spoke with Damar Hamlin and let him know that the hopes and prayers of 20 million New Yorkers have been with him throughout his recovery. His story is truly an inspiration. #LoveForDamar.”
Hamlin greeted the team during a walk-through practice last Saturday, the day before the Bills played host to the Dolphins. He brought his mother, father and younger brother with him. However, he didn’t attend Sunday’s game in person, although he cheered on the 34-31 victory.
His teammates said seeing Hamlin and talking to him meant a great deal.
“He seems to be, I think, still physically very tired, but the guy’s in great spirits,” center Mitch Morse said of Damar Hamlin. “And that also helps with the recovery process for all of us as well.”
The NFL canceled the Bills-Bengals game earlier this month. But the two teams play this Sunday with everything on the line. The winner heads to the AFC title game for a chance to play in the Super Bowl. No one has said whether Damar Hamlin will attend the game at Highmark Stadium.
McDermott said seeing Hamlin around the building is inspiring his teammates. They’re in a better emotional spot.
“Damar’s in the building now, almost starting daily, and so that’s, that’s good news,” McDermott said. “And as he continues to improve, I think … that certainly helps. … I mean that experience, we’ll carry that with us and there’s a challenge to that. But there’s also a lot of good that came from that. And I think right now we need to focus on the positives and the positives that came out of that, as opposed to the other piece of it right now.”