Bills Safety Damar Hamlin Recovering After Collapsing On Field (UPDATED)

By Terrance Turner

Jan. 2, 2023

The following story contains disturbing details and footage.

Tonight’s “Monday Night Football” game was suspended after Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin collapsed on the field.

The Bills and the Cincinnati Bengals began tonight’s game at Paycor Stadium in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Kickoff started at 7:30 CST.) Several players were injured within just minutes of kickoff. But play ground to a halt after Hamlin’s injury.

Hamlin tackled Tee Higgins after a 13-yard reception. It looked like a routine hit (albeit one with apparent head-to-head contact). Hamlin popped back up after bringing Higgins to the ground. But within seconds, he fell backwards, collapsing to the ground. He fell flat on his back, appearing to hit his head.

Following the fall, Hamlin stayed on the ground for over 10 minutes. (ABC & ESPN went to five commercial breaks in the interim.) Medical staff came onto the field and administered CPR. Players from both teams prayed silently. Some of them knelt on the ground, forming prayer circles.

CINCINNATI, OHIO – JANUARY 02: Buffalo Bills players huddle and pray after teammate Damar Hamlin #3 collapsed on the field after making a tackle against the Cincinnati Bengals during the first quarter at Paycor Stadium on January 02, 2023 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)
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Reaction

After the collapse, both Bills and Bengals players embraced and continued to pray. Bills quarterback Josh Allen and Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow shared a hug. Several players were visibly distraught:

CINCINNATI, OHIO – JANUARY 02: Shaq Lawson #90 of the Buffalo Bills reacts after teammate Damar Hamlin #3 was injured against the Cincinnati Bengals during the first quarter at Paycor Stadium on January 02, 2023 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)
CINCINNATI, OHIO – JANUARY 02: Tre’Davious White #27 and Mitch Morse #60 of the Buffalo Bills react to teammate Damar Hamlin #3 collapsing after making a tackle against the Cincinnati Bengals during the first quarter at Paycor Stadium on January 02, 2023 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)
CINCINNATI, OHIO – JANUARY 02: Cam Lewis #39 and Siran Neal #33 of the Buffalo Bills react to teammate Damar Hamlin #3 collapsing after making a tackle against the Cincinnati Bengals during the first quarter at Paycor Stadium on January 02, 2023 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)

Bills receiver Stefon Diggs wept on the sideline:

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After several minutes, an ambulance came onto the field.

An ambulance came on the field during tonight’s “Monday Night Football” game after Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin collapsed on the field. Photo from the New York Times.

The ambulance took Hamlin to UC Medical Center. He is in critical condition.

Because of the grave injury, tonight’s game was postponed.

Thoughts

I hesitated whether to even write this story.

This is an ongoing event. It is unprecedented. People who have covered this league since the ’90s say they’ve never seen anything like this. “No one’s experienced

I do not know what is happening at that hospital. I do not know what tomorrow will bring. And I don’t want to look like I’m monetizing this moment. This is an enormously sensitive situation. A young man is fighting for his life.

He is 24 years old.

In the absence of details about his condition, I want to share something. Damar Hamlin just did a toy drive for local kids in his community in Pittsburgh. His most recent Instagram post is scenes from his annual holiday toy drive:

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Hamlin set up a GoFundMe page for the fundraiser. The goal was to raise $2,500. In the last hour, the donations have surpassed this by 100-fold:

If you can donate, please do so.

UPDATE: At around 9:30 pm, Hamlin’s friend and marketing rep tweeted that his vitals are normal. Hamlin was intubated to allow doctors to place a breathing tube inside his throat.

Subsequently, the news was shared by Nick Bradshaw, reporter for ABC Texas affiliate 25 News:

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UPDATE (11:37 PM): SportsCenter anchor Scott Van Pelt said tonight that donations for the toy drive have surpassed one million dollars:

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Damar Hamlin is recovering after collapsing on the field during Monday night’s game against the Bengals.

Updates

UPDATE (2:15 AM): The Buffalo Bills released a statement an hour ago. It reads, in part: “Damar Hamlin suffered a cardiac arrest following a hit in our game versus the Bengals. His heartbeat was restored on the field and he was transferred to the UC Medical Center for further testing and treatment.”

UPDATE (Jan. 3, 2023, 7:54 pm): Hamlin’s uncle says he had to be resuscitated twice last night: once on the field, again in the ambulance. He told CBS affiliate WROC that Hamlin is on a ventilator. Last night, his breathing had to be assisted 100% by the ventilator. Tonight, he’s up to 50%.

“I really believe [in] the power of prayers,” his uncle said, adding that “it’s been prayers from around the world. I can’t believe the outpour of well wishes, prayers and support.”

JUST IN: The Cincinnati hospital caring for Hamlin just held a news conference. One of the speakers is Dr. William Knight IV, a professor in the emergency department and a member of unaffiliated trauma consultants. Dr. Timothy Pritz is a trauma surgeon. He updated us on Hamlin’s condition.

“We would like to share that there has been substantial improvement in his condition over the past 24 hours,” he said. “As of this morning, he is beginning to awaken, and it appears that his neurological condition and function is intact. We are very proud to report that, very happy for him and his family, and for the Buffalo Bills organization.”

“He continues to be critically ill,” Pritz added. But he noted: “This is a really good turning point in his care.” Dr. Knight echoed that sentiment; he described Hamlin’s improvement as “a fairly remarkable recovery”.

Game Over

The NFL announced today that the Bills-Bengals game will not resume. It has been canceled.

Bills Honor Hamlin In Season Finale

Today, in their final game of the season, the Buffalo Bills honored Hamlin in a variety of ways. Bills general manager Brandon Beane wore a Hamlin jersey during pregame warmups. According to ESPN, Bills players wore custom black T-shirts with a Hamlin collage on the front and a larger image of the safety on the back.

Team personnel wore blue ballcaps and beanies with No. 3 on them. The “3” on the 30-yard line was lined in blue. And before kickoff, the Bills honored their athletic training and medical staff on the field:

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Hamlin himself is watching the game from his hospital room:

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