It seems like a lifetime ago when Damar Hamlin was lifeless on the turf at Paycor Stadium, as an entire nation of NFL fans prayed for and then cheered on his recovery.
But the Buffalo Bills safety is recovering back home now. Every day, the 24-year-old is seeing tangible evidence of the impact he’s had on people’s lives. Earlier this week, he learned an award-winning artist painted a mural of him in Hamlin’s honor.
Damar Hamlin shared a snap of the mural, asking “where is this,” then used a heart emoji with a couple of on-fire signs.
Adam Zyglis, a Pulitzer Prize winner, painted the larger-than-life Damar Hamlin mural. His main job is working as the staff cartoonist for the Buffalo News. In an interview with local reporters, Zyglis said the mural’s theme is how so many people came together to support Hamlin.
“I got caught up as everyone did in the moment with this incredible story of Hamlin and his recovery,” Zyglis told reporters. “It became sort of this moment for the country of unity, it was just incredible. After he just made his full recovery and back to Buffalo, I was just inspired to capture this, piece of Buffalo unity and the national unity.”
You can spot the mural in downtown Buffalo. In fact, you probably can see so many references to Damar Hamlin around town. Fans even are carrying red heart cut outs adorned with the No. 3 to home games.
But let’s go back to earlier his month. The Bills traveled to Cincinnati to take on the Bengals Jan. 2 at Paycor Stadium. In the first quarter, Hamlin tackled receiver Tee Higgins. The play looked like an ordinary one, with Higgins dropping his shoulder into Hamlin’s chest to push for more yardage. But Hamlin went into cardiac arrest. He spent parts of five days on a respirator.
Rather than trying to reschedule the contest, NFL called off the game. But now the Bengals and Bills meet again this Sunday. They’re set for a 3 p.m. Eastern kick at Highmark Stadium in Orchard Park. And the game likely will be the most anticipated of the divisional playoff round.
Fans want to see the quarterbacks — Josh Allen and Joe Burrow. Plus, there’s national interest in rooting for Damar Hamlin and seeing him do so well. No, he’s not playing. Hamlin is in the early stage of his recovery. He visited his teammates last week, but chose not to be there in person for the Bills win over Miami.
Meanwhile, a key member of the Bills family is honoring Damar Hamlin while competing Down Under. Jessica Pegula is the daughter of Bills owners Terry and Kim Pegula. Jessica also happens to rate third in the world in women’s pro tennis. While competing at the Australian Open this week, she’s wearing Hamlin’s No. 3 on her shorts. She won 6-2, 7-6 over Belarus’ Aliaksandra Sasnovich on Wednesday.
Reporters asked her why she was sporting a No. 3. She told them: “I definitely wanted to do something.”