Despite a remarkable recovery thus far, Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin still faces a lengthy rehabilitation process weeks after going into cardiac arrest on the field during a Jan. 2 game at Cincinnati.
Hamlin's marketing representative, Jordan Rooney, emphasized to The Associated Press Thursday night that he still faces hurdles since his discharge from Buffalo General Medical Center on Jan. 11.
The 24-year-old football player was released from the hospital five days after his doctors said he was breathing on his own, walking, talking and showing no signs of neurological damage.
"Damar still requires oxygen and is having his heart monitored regularly to ensure there are no setbacks or after effects," Rooney said. "Though he is able to visit the team’s facility, Damar is not in position to travel often, and requires additional rest to help his body heal."
The Thursday update gave insight into comments made by Bills coach Sean McDermott, who said Wednesday Hamlin was starting to make regular visits to the team's facility. Stressing he was taking one "baby step at a time," McDermott added that Hamlin is "dipping his toe back in here and getting on the road to just getting back to himself."
Aside from a picture posted by Bills linebacker Matt Milano at the team's facility on Saturday, Hamlin has not yet made a public appearance or spoken publicly since the medical emergency. He has been quite active on his social media accounts though, posting updates on his health and live-tweeting the past two Bills' games.
Rooney said Hamlin, who remains "very upbeat and grateful" for all the support he's received worldwide, is being watched by his parents.
He also said Hamlin will be cheering for the Bills on Sunday from an undisclosed location when Buffalo hosts Cincinnati in the AFC divisional playoff game.
The upcoming game against the Bengals carries additional significance as it marks the first meeting between the two teams since their game was canceled after Hamlin went into cardiac arrest and had to be resuscitated on the field.
The horrifying incident took place after Hamlin was hit in the chest while making what appeared to be a routine tackle of Bengals receiver Tee Higgins.
Hamlin’s family and Bills quarterback Josh Allen have defended Higgins in saying he shouldn’t be blamed for what happened.
On Thursday, Higgins said he couldn’t be more appreciative of the family’s support, while expressing hope Hamlin could attend the game so the two could meet.
"Just be happy to see him," Higgins said. "I haven’t really spoken to him. Just letting his family do what he needs to do with all his loved ones."
On Thursday, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul spoke on the phone with Hamlin and extended her support. In a message posted to her Twitter account, Hochul called Hamlin an "inspiration" and said "the hopes and prayers of 20 million New Yorkers have been with him throughout his recovery.
Hamlin, a Pittsburgh, Penn., native, responded to the tweet by writing it was good to meet Hochul. He added he was "excited to see how our collaborations in the future will help and affect so many."
The intense outpour of support over the past few weeks led to almost $9 million in donations to Hamlin's charitable foundation, Chasing M's, via GoFundMe.
A representative for Hamlin posted the following message on the account after the fact:
"Damar created The Chasing M’s Foundation to use as a vehicle to bring lasting impact to his community. The foundation supports toy drives, back-to-school drives, kids camps, and more. We're hopeful about Damar's future involvement in disbursing the incredibly generous contributions."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.