Damar Hamlin’s family thanks fans, first responders

Players and fans from across the NFL have rallied in support of Hamlin, with vigils in Cincinnati and outside the Bills’ home stadium.

CINCINNATI — With tears beginning to flow, Tennessee Titans linebacker Rashad Weaver shook his head and bowed it to his knees. His body swayed as he tried to express what it was like to watch friend and former college teammate Damar Hamlin brought back to life on the soccer field.

“I don’t know, man,” Weaver said Tuesday after sobbing uncontrollably at his locker. “I missed exactly what happened, but about five seconds later when I saw the first replay of it, it was like everyone else was sitting there and holding their breath and figuring out what happened.”

Weaver’s reaction was among most watching from home and on the field in Cincinnati Monday night as Buffalo Bills safety Hamlin collapsed while suffering cardiac arrest after what appeared to be a routine tackle.

As the Bills player lay sedated in a hospital bed with his family by his side at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center where he remained in critical condition as a sophomore, Hamlin’s competitive and helpful spirit was not lost on those who know him.

Dorrian Glenn, Hamlin’s uncle, told CNN in a television interview outside the hospital on Tuesday that Hamlin had to have his heart restarted twice – once on the field and again after arriving at the hospital. Glenn also shared these details with other outlets, including ESPN and NFL Network.

“They resuscitated him in the field before taking him to the hospital and then resuscitated him a second time when he got to the hospital,” Glenn told CNN. “I just want to show my gratitude to the medical staff who were on hand because without them my nephew probably wouldn’t even be here.”

Glenn said he watched the game with some relatives in Pittsburgh. He arrived in Cincinnati early Tuesday; The cities are about 300 miles apart.

“I’ve never cried so much in my life,” Glenn said. “Just to know that my nephew basically died in the field and they brought him back to life. I mean, it’s just heartbreaking.”

Glenn said there were some encouraging signs, such as doctors reducing Hamlin’s oxygen requirements from 100% to 50%.

“Right now he’s still sedated,” Glenn told CNN. “They just want him to have a better chance to recover better. So you feel like his body can heal a lot quicker if he’s sedated than if he were awake and potentially cause other complications.”

The chilling scene of Hamlin’s collapse, which played out before a North American television audience on ESPN’s “Monday Night Football,” has the NFL on hold and the game suspended. That sparked a flood of support for putting Hamlin’s life above sport and brought to the fore the generous person he is.

“He has his own brand of clothing called Chasing M’s, which is about chasing your dreams and chasing millions,” said Weaver, who played alongside Hamlin for four years at the University of Pittsburgh. “And that’s the goal of everyone in life, to achieve their dreams.”

Players and fans from across the NFL rallied in support of Hamlin, with vigils in Cincinnati and outside the Bills’ home stadium. The shock of what happened resonated in Pittsburgh, where 24-year-old Hamlin grew up determined to give back to those in need.

“Damar is a hero to thousands of Pittsburgh kids,” Pitt football coach Pat Narduzzi said in a statement. “Damar, we love you. We pray for you. Pittsburgh has always had your back. And now it’s obvious that the whole country is behind you too.”

The Bills said Hamlin spent the night in intensive care after his heart stopped when he tackled receiver Tee Higgins in the first quarter against the Bengals. Medical personnel restored his heartbeat in hectic moments on the pitch before being loaded into an ambulance where his mother came to him while players and coaches from both sides looked on helplessly in tears.

“First and foremost, Bengalis continue to send thoughts and prayers to Damar Hamlin and his family. Our hearts are with everyone at this unprecedented time – what we can do is support one another,” Bengals President Mike Brown said in a statement.

In Buffalo, the Bills changed their social media avatar to that of Hamlin’s No. 3 jersey with the words “Pray For Damar.” The other 31 teams and the NFL quickly followed suit.

While some Bills players stayed in Cincinnati to be with their teammates, the others returned home early Tuesday when they were greeted by a handful of fans who watched in silence from the curb outside Buffalo Niagara International Airport.

The Bills took the day off and were unsure when they would be able to resume training, which put Hamlin ahead of everything else, including their quest for the AFC’s top spot.

The NFL’s schedule is now in flux after the game between Buffalo (12-3) and Cincinnati (11-4) – a showdown affecting the AFC playoff race – was indefinitely postponed.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell told both teams that their game will not resume this week. No decision has yet been made on whether it will be played at a later date, as the league is not making any changes to its Week 18 schedule a week before the start of the playoffs.

Numerous NFL teams have canceled their media availability, including the New England Patriots, who are scheduled to travel to Buffalo on Sunday for the teams’ season finale.

“Please pray for our brother,” quarterback Josh Allen tweeted.

Offensive lineman Rodger Saffold added, “He’s more than an athlete. He is a son and brother. And I pray that God will show mercy on him and bring him back to us.”

Hamlin hails from McKees Rocks, a tough Pittsburgh suburb, and was selected by Buffalo in the sixth round of the 2021 draft. He spent his rookie season limited to special team roles, taking the starting job in Week 3 in place of veteran Micah Hyde, who remains sidelined with a neck injury.

Overnight, Hamlin went from being a relatively unknown sophomore to an international wave of support.

His Chasing M’s Foundation has eclipsed its modest goal of raising $2,500. over 5 million dollars until Tuesday evening.

Bills and Bengals fans rallied in hospital immediately after the game was postponed, with many returning on Tuesday.

Elena Weiler, 33, of Amelia, Ohio, and Billy Jeffers held a sign that read “Pray for Hamlin 3” with candles in front of it.

“Whether you’re a Bengals fan or a Bills fan, we’re here to show our support,” said Jeffers, who was wearing a Bengals sweatshirt.

The Bills now face perhaps their toughest hurdle in a calendar year of adversity on and off the field. The team’s schedule was disrupted twice in the past month by major snowstorms, including a blizzard that resulted in at least 40 deaths in the area over Christmas. The Bills also rallied to support the community following a racist killing spree that killed 10 at a Buffalo supermarket in May.

On Tuesday, it was the region’s turn to rally for the team on both sides of the New York-Ontario border.

The Ontario resident Commission of Niagara Parks announced it will light up Niagara Falls blue in honor of Hamlin.

“Our shared thoughts are with him, his family, his team and the city of Buffalo,” the commission wrote.

https://www.kvue.com/article/news/nation-world/damar-hamlins-family-support/507-f7015b6d-b589-4c7a-a5ae-e8340e6b110a Damar Hamlin’s family thanks fans, first responders

Laura Coffey

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