January 4, 2023
Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin, who suffered a cardiac arrest during Monday’s game against the Bengals, had his breathing tube removed overnight and “continues to progress remarkably in his recovery,” the Bills announced on Friday, per the physicians at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center.
“His neurologic function remains intact and he has been able to talk to his family and care team,” the Bills said.
NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported that Hamlin delivered a message to the team Friday morning and spent time speaking to various teammates on FaceTime.
NFL Network’s Cameron Wolfe spoke with the Hamlin family on Friday morning about the latest developments in Hamlin’s status.
“They are absolutely elated this morning, emotional that he’s had that breathing tube out, that he’s had conversations with what they’ve described as his brothers,” Wolfe said on NFL Network. “They said, ‘Look, we cannot describe the emotion as anything other than elated.’ “
Bills head coach Sean McDermott said it would be hard to “do it justice honestly with words” in describing the scene when Hamlin spoke to the team on Friday.
“Amazing, touching to see Damar, No. 1, through my own eyes,” McDermott said. “That’s something that I’ve been looking forward to, kinda needing to see, I guess — hate to say it that way, it sounds bad. But … to watch the reaction in the room with the players and the staff and the team, they didn’t know that we were going to do that and wanted to make sure that that was actually going to be able to happen with Damar’s medical schedule there. … When I said we had a treat in store … you could see the look on their eyes in anticipation of what was probably coming. To get the Zoom, and when he came on the screen — Tabani (Richards), our assistant trainer has done a phenomenal job out there helping facilitate that this morning as well — to see the players’ reaction, they stood up right away and clapped for him and yelled some things to him and it was a pretty cool exchange for a few seconds there.”
Hamlin did one of his trademark flexes when he appeared on the main video screen in the Bills’ meeting room, McDermott said.
“I can’t remember the order of things, and it was not a long interaction as you’d imagine with his situation, but he made hand signals, hand gestures,” McDermott said. “The thing that makes me laugh is he did this to the guys right away (flexes to camera). He flexed on ’em, I guess. He’s just got some staple things that they know him for and that he does. He made the heart symbol probably more than anything, then he gave them a thumbs up. Somewhere in the midst of that — and it was a little bit hard to hear, as you’d imagine — he said, ‘I love you boys.’ Of course, I think that got the guys.”
Bills general manager Brandon Beane said the hair on the back of his neck “stood up” when Hamlin addressed his teammates Friday. Asked why he decided to stay with the safety in Cincinnati through Wednesday, Beane says the choice was “simple.”
“What would you want someone to do for your son?” the GM explained.
During a media conference call on Friday, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell praised medical personnel — including those on the field and physicians at the UCMC — for their flawless work in saving Damar’s life, as well as McDermott and Bengals head coach Zac Taylor for leading their teams with “sensitivity and compassion.”
“I wanted to share a few of my thoughts about Monday, Damar, and what has been clearly a challenging week,” Goodell said. “Yesterday’s news of Damar’s improving condition, not only lifted my spirits, but the spirits of the entire league, and this morning’s news that he was FaceTiming with the team is just incredible. In my experience, extraordinary situations bring out the extraordinary in people. And we saw, and continue to see that, in so many ways.”
Doctors announced during a Thursday news conference that Hamlin had shown “substantial improvement,” which marked “a really good turning point in his ongoing care.”
Friday’s news is another step in a positive direction in Hamlin’s recovery.