ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) — The Buffalo Bills got a much-needed jolt of good news on Thursday.
Coach Sean McDermott and his team found out that safety Damar Hamlin has made remarkable progress in his recovery since his heart stopped during Monday night’s game.
In three days since the Bills were left emotionally devastated as they watched their teammate collapse on the field in Cincinnati, the team’s motto has gone from “Pray for Damar” to “Play for Damar.”
And a rallying message from Hamlin’s father, Mario — delivered to the Bills via a Zoom call on Wednesday — provided another boost as the Bills (12-3) resumed practicing in preparation to host the New England Patriots (8-8) in their season finale on Sunday.
“His message was the team needs to get back to focus on the goals they had set for themselves. Damar would have wanted it that way,” McDermott said. “We owe that to Damar, and we owe that to his family.”
Quarterback Josh Allen was particularly inspired by what Hamlin communicated to his bedside nurse upon waking up Wednesday evening. Unable to speak because of an oxygen tube inserted in his mouth, Hamlin asked by writing on a pad of paper if the Bills had beaten the Bengals. (He didn’t know the game was suspended after his injury.)
“As teammates, you love hearing that response, that the first thing on his mind wasn’t, you know, ‘Poor me.’ It was, ‘How are my teammates doing?’” Allen said. “For Damar to go through that and to come out on the other side and still, again, just thinking about his teammates, that’s Damar. That’s who he is.”
Though the 24-year-old Hamlin remains listed in critical condition in the intensive care unit of the University of Cincinnati Medical Center, his doctors provided encouraging news on his recovery. Aside from being able to communicate, Hamlin has also been able to grip people’s hands.
“So we know that it’s not only that the lights are on. We know that he’s home. And it appears that all the cylinders are firing within his brain, which is greatly gratifying for all of us,” Dr. Timothy Pritts said. “He still has significant progress he needs to make, but this marks a really good turning point in his ongoing care.”
How to send a ‘get well’ card to Damar Hamlin
A website in Buffalo has teamed up with a nonprofit to send “get well” cards to Hamlin. The cards need to arrive by Friday, Jan. 13. If you want to send your best wishes to Hamlin, mail your card to the following address:
3221 Southwestern Blvd., PMB 325
Orchard Park, NY