Sunday, January 15, 2023

Damar Hamlin visits teammates for 1st time since injury

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ORCHARD PARK, New York– Damar Hamlin visited the Bills facility with teammates for the first time since being discharged from a Buffalo hospital on Saturday, and about two weeks after safety went into cardiac arrest and had to be resuscitated on the field during a game in Cincinnati.

Bill’s linebacker Matt Milano posted a photo to his Instagram account of a smiling Hamlin shaking hands with a teammate.

A person with direct knowledge of Hamlin’s schedule confirmed the player’s visit to The Associated Press. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because Hamlin has kept his schedule and recovery a secret.

Hamlin was allowed to go home Wednesday after undergoing final tests at Buffalo General Medical Center. His trip to meet teammates comes a day before the Bills (13-3) host their division rivals Miami Dolphins (9-8) in a wildcard playoff game, increasing the likelihood he could be healthy enough to play to participate in the game.

Hamlin, 24, is continuing what doctors have described as a “remarkable recovery” since his heart stopped after falling in the first quarter of a since-cancelled game in Cincinnati on Feb. 24.

Hamlin spent his first two days at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center under sedation and breathing on a ventilator. Upon waking, Hamlin showed no signs of neurological damage and was breathing, walking and talking on his own within four days of his arrival.

He first interacted with his teammates on January 6 when Hamlin appeared from his hospital room via video conference. He exchanged hand messages, flexed his muscles and addressed them, saying, “Love you guys.”

Hamlin live-tweeted while watching the Bills’ 35-23 season-ending win over New England on Sunday, and was discharged from the Cincinnati hospital a day later and transferred to Buffalo. He is now continuing his rehabilitation with the Bills.

As Hamlin’s recovery progressed, the news from the Bills and the NFL switched from “Prayers for Damar 3” to “Love for Damar 3” last weekend as the entire league honored Hamlin, who wears the number 3.

Hamlin’s recovery has strengthened the Bills, who were stunned and teary-eyed to see medical staff resuscitate their team-mate.

The Bills were wary on Wednesday about when they would get the chance to meet Hamlin in person, saying it was contingent on the player regaining his strength.

“I’m just making sure he’s taking it slow and obviously trying to get back to being himself,” said quarterback Josh Allen. “So we’re taking the time we need. But I hope he knows the boys are ready to see him.”

In the days following its collapse, $8.6 million in GoFundMe donations went to Hamlin’s Toy Drive fundraiser, which is used to support young people through education and sports.

Hamlin, who hails from McKee’s Rock, a Pittsburgh suburb, will also donate proceeds from the sale of new T-shirts that read “Did We Win?” along with his hands in the shape of a heart to raise money for the Cincinnati trauma center that originally treated him.

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