Friday was a good day in the Buffalo Bills locker room, as safety Damar Hamlin surprised his teammates and coaches on a video chat and was able to say a few words.
The Bills tweeted Friday morning that Hamlin’s breathing tube was removed overnight and that the defensive back “continues to progress remarkably in his recovery.”
The team also shared that the 24-year-old’s neurologic function remains intact and he’s been able to talk to his family.
According to the New York Times, Hamlin joined his team by FaceTime as they met in preparation for their upcoming Sunday game against the New England Patriots. Bills head coach Sean McDermott told reporters that his appearance on the call was a “treat” and his teammates gave Hamlin a standing ovation, in return.
Hamlin also gave his arm muscles a flex, formed a heart with his hands and was able to tell the team, “Love you boys,” McDermott said.
“It was a pretty cool exchange for a few seconds there,” McDermott said.
Hamlin had to be resuscitated on the football field after he suffered cardiac arrest during the Monday night showdown against the Cincinnati Bengals. The injury occurred after Hamlin tackled Bengals receiver Tee Higgins.
The play was not particularly violent or out of the ordinary. When Hamlin tackled, Higgins’ right shoulder hit Hamlin in the chest. Hamlin then wrapped his arms around Higgins’ shoulders and helmet to drag him down. Hamlin quickly got to his feet, appeared to adjust his face mask with his right hand, and then fell backward onto the field, where he lay motionless.
There is no definitive answer to what caused Hamlin’s cardiac arrest.
Doctors at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center have said they’re pleased to see Hamlin’s progress, but it’s too early to tell whether he’ll make a full recovery.
Friday’s development comes on the heels of Hamlin making significant progress Thursday, when he was able to communicate with his doctors.
The second-year player woke up after being sedated and his first thoughts were to ask about the result of Monday night’s game, his doctors said.
The doctors reportedly answered, “Yes, Damar, you’ve won. You’ve won the game of life.”
The Bills also shared a couple of ways they were planning to keep their “guy” close to their hearts during Sunday’s game.
The team showed a special patch with Hamlin’s number 3 that will be sewn to each player’s jersey, as well as a blue outline on the 3 of the 30-yard line marking.
The NFL said Thursday it will not resume the Bills-Bengals game that was suspended Monday night after Hamlin collapsed and went into cardiac arrest on the field.
The league said some of the factors in coming to its decision included that “not playing the Buffalo-Cincinnati game to its conclusion will have no effect on which clubs qualify for the postseason. No club would qualify for the postseason and no club will be eliminated based on the outcome of this game.”
Also, the NFL said playing the game between the Bills and Bengals would have required postponing the start of the playoffs by a week and affecting all 14 teams that qualified for the postseason.
The NFL said its decision creates “potential competitive inequities in certain playoff scenarios.” The league said clubs on Friday, in a special league meeting, would consider a resolution recommended by the commissioner and approved Thursday by the Competition Committee.
— with files from Global News’ Sarah Do Couto and The Associated Press
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