Updated Jan 7, 2023 - Sports

Bills' Damar Hamlin makes first public comment since cardiac arrest

Damar Hamlin #3 of the Buffalo Bills on Nov. 13, 2022, in Orchard Park, New York. Photo: Isaiah Vazquez/Getty Images

Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin's made his first public comments Saturday after suffering a cardiac arrest during the team's game against the Cincinnati Bengals earlier this week.

The latest: "When you put real love out into the world it comes back to you 3x's as much," Hamlin said in an Instagram post. "The Love has been overwhelming, but I'm thankful for every single person that prayed for me and reached out."

  • "If you know me you know this only gone make me stronger," he added. "On a long road keep praying for me!"
  • Hamlin has seen significant improvement in his condition since collapsing on the field during the regular-season game.
  • His breathing tube was removed Thursday night as he "continues to progress remarkably in his recovery," the Buffalo Bills said Friday.
  • Hamlin's "neurologic function remains intact" and he has been talking with his family and care team, the team said, citing University of Cincinnati Medical Center (UCMC) physicians.
  • Hamlin FaceTimed with teammates on Friday. “Love you boys,” he said, per the Bills.

What we're watching: The NFL announced Friday a series of measures that all 32 clubs can use to honor Hamlin during this weekend's slate of games.

  • The options include holding a moment of silence, outlining the "3" in each 30-yard line number and wearing pregame shirts from Nike that read "Love for Damar 3."
  • The Buffalo Bills announced the team will wear a No. 3 uniform patch to celebrate their fallen teammate during their home game Sunday against the New England Patriots.
  • The game will be "a celebration of life and of ongoing life,” Bills General Manager Brandon Beans said at a press conference Friday. “Just a celebration … for the whole country.”
  • “I think it's going to be a great seat if you've got a ticket to come here and just be a part of this atmosphere," Beans said. "I’ve got hair on the back of my neck standing up right now. It is going to be unique."

Catch up quick: On Thursday, Hamlin's doctors said that he was awake and making "substantial progress" after suffering a cardiac arrest.

  • The Buffalo Bills safety was deemed still "critically ill" Thursday but appeared to be neurologically intact, the team said.
  • At the time, Hamlin was unable to speak because of a breathing tube. But he was communicating through writing and could move his hands, feet and head, according to physicians at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center (UCMC).
  • The progress marked a "good turning point" in Hamlin's care, UCMC physician Timothy Pritts said at a news conference Thursday afternoon. Hamlin will continue to receive treatment in the intensive care unit before returning to his family.
  • "He expressed surprise that he had been not with the world for two days, and we talked about the support that's been given from Cincinnati and Buffalo and really across the country for him and his family here at the time," Pritts added.

What they're saying: "His lungs continue to heal and he is making steady progress," the Bills had said in an update Thursday morning.

  • Bills cornerback Kaiir Elam also tweeted Thursday that Hamlin "is doing better, awake and showing more signs of improvement."
  • Hamlin's agent, Ron Butler, told CNN that the Bills safety is holding hands with his family.
  • "Great news," President Biden said in response to the Bills' update Thursday. "Damar, like I told your mom and dad yesterday, Jill and I — along with all of America — are praying for you and your family."

Background: Hamlin collapsed on the field Monday night in Cincinnati after taking a hit to the chest from a routine tackle.

  • Medical professionals gave him oxygen and administered CPR and an automated external defibrillator (AED) to bring back his heartbeat, Axios' Kendall Baker reports.
  • Hamlin's uncle Dorrian Glenn said Tuesday that his nephew was still on a ventilator, but he was improving.
  • On Wednesday, Hamlin was “in the ICU in critical condition with signs of improvement," according to the Bills.

Experts say Hamlin likely experienced commotio cordis, a rare event that happens due to a blow to the chest wall, Baker writes. Fewer than 30 cases are reported annually according to the National Library of Medicine.

The big picture: Thousands of people have shared their support and prayers for Hamlin in the days following the tragic incident.

  • More than 221,000 people have donated to Hamlin's fundraiser for a Pittsburgh-area toy drive.
  • "On behalf of our family, we want to express our sincere gratitude for the love and support shown to Damar during this challenging time," Hamlin’s family said in a statement. "We are deeply moved by the prayers, kind words, and donations from fans across the country."

Editor's note: This story has been updated with additional details and developments.

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