On January 2nd, just a few days into the 2023 new year, the Buffalo Bills were playing in a divisional game against the Cincinnati Bengals at the Bengal’s home field, Paycor Stadium. Both teams were playing with a competitive manner in an attempt to secure a top conference seed in the upcoming NFL playoffs. However, at 8:55 pm with 5:58 left in the first quarter, the Bengals leading 7-3; Cincinnati star quarterback, Joe Burrow, threw a 13 yard pass to wide receiver, Tee Higgins, who in turn ran forward to midfield where the Buffalo’s own safety Hamlin was waiting.
Higgins led the impact with his right shoulder, hitting Hamlin in his chest and head. Upon the initial collision, Hamlin then began a routine tackle, wrapping his arms around Higgins shoulders to pull him to the ground, ending the play. After the contact, Hamlin, seemingly sprang quickly up to his feet, adjusted his face mask, and then unexpectedly fell backwards 3 seconds after initially rising, lying motionless on the field as the crowd and his teammates alike watched in horror. Thankfully, within a window of 10 seconds after his initial collapse, Bills team trainers and physicians began to assess and actively treat Hamlin on location. Hamlin laid on the field for a total of 19 minutes while receiving medical attention like CPR and also an automated external defibrillator (AED). Hamlin was further rushed to the University of Cincinnati Medical Center where he was soon intubated and acquired additional medical attention. It has been revealed that Damar had suffered from cardiac arrest during the game. 3 days after suffering the injury, Hamlin awoke with his breathing tube removed and he was able to speak. On the 9th, Damar was discharged from Cincinnati Medical Center and relocated back to Buffalo with friends and family at Buffalo General Medical Center/Gates Vascular Institute. Damar is currently happy and as healthy as he can be given the circumstances.
His incident took the NFL community and beyond by storm, inciting unbeknownst support by not only teammates and Bill’s fans but also sports fans in general, including the opposing team at the time (the Bengals) who all rallied together with Bill’s fans in support of Hamlin. The overwhelming amount of support and outpouring amount of generosity led to the accumulation of over $8 million donated to a toy drive for Damar’s community,which put together by Hamlin himself that blew the original goal of $2,500 out of the water. From vigils held in Cincinnati and in front of the Bills’ home stadium to the NFL allowing teams across the league to honor Hamlin through marks on fields and players jerseys, players, and supporters alike came together to show their support for him. The support for Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin has been overwhelming. It is safe to say that his story has been able to reach people of all backgrounds, extending far beyond the world of sports.
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