As Buffalo Bills player Damar Hamlin remains in critical condition after suffering in-game cardiac arrest, his childhood friend and fellow NFL player says there is “no doubt in my mind” that Hamlin will recover.
Indianapolis Colts safety Rodney Thomas II went straight to the Cincinnati hospital where Hamlin was knocked unconscious after his on-field collapse in Monday’s game against the Cincinnati Bengals.
“I know he can hear me,” Thomas said Wednesday, holding Hamlin’s hand. “Even if he couldn’t hear me, it doesn’t matter. I said what I had to say.”
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The pair, who became close friends as teammates at their Pittsburgh high school, spoke daily before Hamlin’s collapse and had spoken on the first Monday. “It calmed me down,” Thomas said of seeing his friend. “It made the trip home a lot easier. I could go home and know he was going to be straight. I found him. We all found him. Everyone’s after him.
Hamlin is showing “signs of improvement” as he remains in intensive care at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center, his team Said Wednesday.
His heartbeat was restored on the field, Bills have said, before he was carried from the stadium in an ambulance while stunned and emotional players and fans looked on. Hamlin is on a ventilator and “turned onto his stomach” in the hospital to help relieve some of the strain on his lungs, his uncle Dorian Glenn told CNN on Tuesday.
Since his hospitalization, Hamlin has received support from sports fans and players across the country, including more than $7 million donated to his foundation’s Toy Drive GoFundMe as of Thursday morning. Several athletes have worn Hamlin’s number 3 or his jersey, while all of the league’s teams have honored him through jumbotron messages and light displays in their stadiums.
The Bills–Bengals game was postponed after Hamlin collapsed with the Bengals leading 7–3. The NFL is discussing how to handle incomplete games — which will not continue this week — but has yet to announce a strategy.
Initially regarded as an important late-season matchup with significant playoff implications, the showdown averaged 21.1 million viewers on ESPN, according to Nielsen ratings. Following Hamlin’s collapse, viewership increased to a historic 23.9 million, making the broadcast the most watched “Monday Night Football” in ESPN history.
Hamlin fell shortly after a collision in which a Bengals receiver tried to power Hamlin, who made contact for a tackle with about six minutes remaining in the first quarter of Monday’s game. Hamlin swung the receiver to the ground still and stood up – but collapsed and lay motionless within seconds.
It is still unclear what caused Hamlin’s cardiac arrest, but Dr. Alan Sills, the NFL’s chief medical officer, said the league will investigate what may have caused it.
Whenever a player is ejected from the field, the NFL and its medical experts conduct a detailed review of what happened, Sills told reporters on Wednesday. They also examine what role protective equipment might play, he said.
In some cases, Sills said, the medical team won’t be able to determine what’s causing the problem.
The doctor also addressed theories that cardiac arrest could be caused by commotio cordis, which occurs when severe trauma to the chest disrupts the heart’s electrical impulses, causing a dangerous tremor.
“You have to land the right type of blow in the right place on the chest with the right amount of force at the right time in that heart chakra. So a lot of things have to line up for this to happen,” he stressed, adding that as long as it is possible, investigators will consider all options.
Sills attributed the “transformational response” of medical personnel when Hamlin collapsed to a “60-minute meeting” held between medical teams and NFL officials before every game. During the meeting, the teams identify the location of medical equipment and nearby medical centers, and establish a chain of command in case of an emergency, including cardiac arrest, among other things.
Hamlin’s collapse is the latest in a string of recent tragedies that have struck the community of Buffalo and its beloved football team, including a racist mass shooting and a historic blizzard that killed at least 41 people in Erie County, New York. They went.
A high-ranking official of the bill’s organization told CNN’s Coy Wire that they were in tears after day-and-night meetings on Tuesday, sobbing because of the enormity of the situation.
While the series of hard hitting Buffalo has taken an emotional toll within the organization, through it all, the team has tried to be a source of strength for the city, the source tells The Wire.
The source pointed to Buffalo Sabers hockey forward Taz Thompson’s performance on Tuesday night as a “ray of hope” at a time when the team needed inspiration.
Hamlin’s jersey number, 3, was a recurring motif throughout the games played on January 3. Thompson’s three goals during overtime gave the Sabers the win. It was Thompson’s third hat-trick of the season and his third goal fortunately came in the third minute of overtime.
The Sabers also wore “Love for 3” T-shirts honoring Hamlin before the game.