By Joseph Green-Bishop
The injured Buffalo Bills football player, Damar Hamlin, who some believed had little chance of survival after a violent collision during a game last Monday night, has spoken for the first time with members of his family, his football team and with doctors who are treating him at the University of Cincinnati Hospital.
Millions of television viewers watched the game, and those in the stadium were in utter silence as an ambulance removed the motionless player from the field.
The breathing tubes that were keeping the second-year player alive were removed Thursday night, and he communicated with family members, his doctors, and his teammates on Friday morning, according to Sean McDermott, the head coach of the Bills football team.
Hamlin, a University of Pittsburgh graduate, known for his financial support of people and causes, communicated with members of his team via video chat, the coach said.
They gave him a standing ovation when he appeared on the video screen, the coach added.
Doctors are uncertain if Hamlin will recover fully.
During the brief video with his team, Hamlin formed his hands to make a heart, flexed his muscles and said, “I love you boys,” as his surprised teammates applauded and wept.
“He continues to progress remarkably in his recovery,” the Bills said in a statement.
Coach McDermott said that Hamlin’s video lifted the spirits of all his team members, coaches, and assistants.
Retired NFL player Dante Wesley, who played the same position as Hamlin while a member of three NFL teams, said that he and his wife, Renetta, were grateful that Hamlin was doing so well. “God is on his side,” said Wesley, who resides in Cedar Hill with his wife and two children.
“We were watching the game and saw the play when he was injured,” Wesley, who played for the Carolina Panthers, the Chicago Bears, and the Detroit Lions, said. “Most people do not realize how physically violent the game of football can be. Players never know what will happen when they walk on the field. All of us should continue to pray for him, his teammates and for all of those who play professional football.”
According to medical personnel who treated him after the collision, Hamlin’s heart stopped beating for 10 minutes. He was administered CPR on the field and taken to the hospital. Coaches and NFL personnel decided to postpone the game indefinitely.
During a news conference on Friday, the quarterback of the Bills, Josh Allen, said that the video with Hamlin had lifted the spirits of his worried teammates. He said that they were eager to see Hamlin in person again so that could express to him how much they cared for, and about him. “We intend to love up on him,” said Allen, who held a team prayer meeting at his home earlier in the week to pray for Hamlin.
One of Hamlin’s teammates, Dane Jackson, who played football with Hamlin at the University of Pittsburgh, said that the two players prayed before each game. Jackson said that they would exchange the words, “I love you,” before they went on the field.
Like his fallen teammate, Jackson had to be carried from the field in an ambulance earlier this season because of a severe neck injury. As he was being loaded into the ambulance, he heard someone say, “I love you.”
He said he was not surprised that the greeting during his time of peril came from the lips of his friend, Darmar Hamlin.