Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin is still in critical condition at a Cincinnati hospital on Tuesday one day after going into cardiac arrest during a primetime game against the Cincinnati Bengals.
The football star’s heartbeat was restarted on the field by medical officials before he was taken to the University of Cincinnati Medical Center for more testing and treatment, according to the Bills.
Hamlin’s collapse has horrified the nation, and led to the cancelation of the Monday Night Football game for the foreseeable future.
Here’s what to know so far.
Buffalo Bills players pray for teammate Damar Hamlin during the first half of an NFL football game against the Cincinnati Bengals on Jan. 2, 2023.
Joshua A. Bickel—AP
Damar Hamlin remains in critical condition
As the first quarter was ending, Hamlin tackled Bengals receiver Tee Higgins, who rammed into Hamlin at high speed. In the collision, Higgins’ helmet appeared to strike Hamlin around the head and chest. By most accounts, it was not an especially noteworthy, or violent hit in the context of the NFL.
Hamlin rose from the open-field tackle, but collapsed onto his back moments later.
The team’s trainers rushed to help Hamlin and an ambulance arrived within a few minutes, with medics performing CPR before he was taken to the nearby hospital.
Within 90 minutes, Hamlin’s vitals were stable and he’d been sedated and intubated, according to a tweet from Jordon Rooney, Hamlin’s self-identified marketing representative and friend.
“Every time there’s an injury, you tend to dehumanize an athlete,” Rooney said Tuesday in an interview on the Pat McAfee Show. “We have no choice but to be positive. We know Damar, we know what he’s capable of.”
In statements from the team on Tuesday, the Bills confirmed that Hamlin is in critical condition and undergoing further tests.
Rooney tweeted a statement from Hamlin’s family Tuesday morning that thanked the team, healthcare workers and football fans for their support. The statement said the family will release updates on Hamlin’s status as they come.
Football fans pray outside the University of Cincinnati Medical Center after Buffalo Bills defensive back Damar Hamlin collapsed on the field during the Monday Night Football NFL showdown with the Bengals in Cincinnati, Ohio, on Jan. 2, 2023.
Cara Owsley—USA Today Network/Reuters
Dorrian Glenn, Hamlin’s uncle, told CNN on Tuesday night that Hamlin’s heartbeat had been resuscitated a second time at the hospital, where Hamlin has been sedated and put on a ventilator to assist his lungs, which sustained damage. Glenn told the NFL Network that while Hamlin initially required full breathing support, his condition has improved to need only 50% oxygen assistance.
What is the NFL saying?
After Hamlin was driven out in an ambulance, officials consulted both teams’ coaches and decided to suspend the game, leaving both teams to file out of the field to the locker room.
With the Bengals leading 7-3, the game has been postponed indefinitely. The NFL has no current plans to resume the Bills-Bengals game and spokesperson Jeff Miller said the league will decide on that at an appropriate time.
Both the NFL and its players’ association expressed that their priority is Hamlin’s well-being and members from both the Bills and Bengals visited Hamlin in the hospital.
“Last night was supposed to be a great night for the NFL and a great showcase for our hometown. Instead, the human side of our sport became paramount… and in that moment, humanity and love rose to the forefront,” Mike Brown, Cincinnati Bengals’ owner said in a statement on Tuesday.
Fox Sports commentator Skip Bayless apologized for a controversial tweet he posted after the incident—which was viewed by more than 140 million users in which he said, “No doubt the NFL is considering postponing the rest of this game – but how? This late in the season, a game of this magnitude is crucial to the regular-season outcome … which suddenly seems so irrelevant.”
In his follow up tweet less than an hour later, Bayless clarified saying, “Nothing is more important than that young man’s health. That was the point of my last tweet. I’m sorry if that was misunderstood but his health is all that matters. Again, everything else is irrelevant. I prayed for him & will continue to.”
Buffalo Bills defensive back Damar Hamlin leaves the field after an NFL football game against the New England Patriots, on Dec. 1, 2022, in Foxborough, Mass.
Greg M. Cooper—AP
Who is Damar Hamlin?
Hailing from the Pittsburgh area, Hamlin was a high school football champion as a teenager and was pursued by several Division 1 football universities. Loyal to the Steel City, he said it was an easy choice when he decided to play for the University of Pittsburgh. Hamlin was named captain in his last season at Pitt. In 2021, he declared for the NFL draft and was chosen by the Bills in the sixth round.
In his second season, the 24-year-old made more appearances on the field this fall when he took over as starting safety. Standing at 6 feet and weighing 200 lbs., Hamlin played in all 15 games Bill games so far this season and has made 91 tackles.
Hamlin is known for his strong love and connection to his hometown, and in 2020 he started a GoFundMe campaign to raise money for a community toy drive. His initial fundraising goal was $2,500. As of last month, the campaign had just over $2,900 in donations, but since news of Hamlin’s injury spread, the campaign has now raised more than $3.8 million for children’s toys.
“As I embark on my journey to the NFL, I will never forget where I come from and I am committed to using my platform to positively impact the community that raised me,” Hamlin said in the GoFundMe’s description.
With more than 147,000 donors, Bills fans have turned to donations as a way to show their support for Hamlin. “I’m excited for Damar when he sees that because that type of stuff means so much to him,” Rooney said on the Pat McAfee Show.
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