His coach calls Damar Hamlin “America’s guest.” And now the Bills’ miracle safety is going from the football-oriented to gaudy pop culture.
Maybe you watched Wednesday’s episode of The Masked Singer on Fox. It’s a different sort of talent reality show. Celebrities conceal their identity by donning big, colorful, over-the-top costumes. Then they perform a song in front of a panel of judges, as well as fans in the studio and at home. At least one contestant goes home each week. And at the end of the show, the losing singer is unmasked.
Now, Damar Hamlin didn’t bother with a costume or performing a song. He was there for his little brother, Damir. Wednesday’s theme was Sesame Street. And Damir wanted to check out his favorite characters.
In fact, viewers saw Damir first, not knowing anything different was afoot. The little boy opened a door and sat on the top step of a small porch. Elmo popped up and asked him who he was. Elmo then asked Damir to look at his name on the big screen. And Elmo wanted to know who Damir brought with him. Why, his brother, of course! So Elmo says “let’s bring him out!”
As Damar Hamlin popped onstage, the entire audience went crazy. So did the judges. Nick Cannon, the show’s host, introduced Hamlin as someone who “brought the whole world together and united us all.”
Ken Jeong, one of the judges, was especially excited that Hamlin was on stage. Before he turned to acting, Jong was a doctor. So he knows how much Hamlin had to overcome when he collapsed and nearly died on Jan. 2, during a nationally-televised road game against the Bengals.
“I’m just so glad you’re here, but more importantly I’m just so glad you’re healthy,” Jeong told Damar Hamlin. “The whole world loves you. The whole world loves you.”
And Hamlin, being the good big brother, explained why an NFL player dropped by The Masked Singer.
“My brother, you know, that’s my world.” he says. “I put family first. And he loves Sesame Street more than most things.”
Fox filmed The Masked Singer episode back in January. That’s according to People, which didn’t say what day. But Damar Hamlin had only been out of the hospital for a few weeks when he did the appearance. Hamlin spent several days in ICU on life support after his collapse. By the end of January, he attended the Bills playoff game against the Bengals. But he watched from a stadium suite.
Hamlin made his first publicized public appearance, Feb. 8, in Phoenix, during Super Bowl week. The next day, Hamlin spoke at NFL Honors. He also reunited with the first responders from the field and the hospital who helped save his life.
Bills general manager Brandon Beane recently said that Hamlin still is being evaluated for a return to the field.