Buffalo Bills’ Damar Hamlin Suffers Cardiac Arrest Mid-Game


courtesy of Schetm

The scene as Damar Hamlin was rushed to the hospital following his cardiac arrest during Monday Night Football


On January 2, Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin suffered a cardiac arrest on the field during the team’s Week 17 matchup against the Cincinnati Bengals. The second-year star was immediately rushed to the hospital following a hard hit to the chest, turning an anticipated AFC (American Football Conference) matchup into an unprecedented nightmare. 

Hamlin, a defensive back out of the University of Pittsburgh, was selected in the sixth round of the 2021 NFL Draft by the Buffalo Bills. The 24-year-old safety appeared in every 2022 season game leading up to the Bills’ Week 18 matchup against the New England Patriots. 

On January 2, the Buffalo Bills were set to face off against a conference rival team, the Cincinnati Bengals. Fans across the league were exhilarated for the Monday Night Football matchup, whose outcome would determine the playoff picture of the AFC. With a Bills victory, the team would become the number one seed in the conference and receive a first-round BYE, positioning them two games away from competing in the Super Bowl.  

However, the highly-anticipated game quickly turned into a nightmare in the first quarter as Hamlin collapsed and suffered cardiac arrest after making a tackle. The once lively crowd hung silent as the Bills’ medical professionals rushed onto the field to perform CPR on Hamlin and used a defibrillator to get his heart to resume beating. Players and fans cried, knelt, and prayed with one another, unaware of how severe Damar’s condition could be. Almost 15 minutes following his collapse, Hamlin was rushed to the hospital by ambulance. 

NFL officials insisted that they did not plan on resuming the game, but players and coaches argued otherwise. The commentators announced that the league would give the players five minutes to warm up prior to resuming play. Players and coaches headed back to the locker room, making it apparent they had no desire to go back onto the field, and the referees announced that the game would be temporarily suspended. “The league did not cancel the game. The Bills and Bengals canceled the game,” a team official stated.

The night of the collision, hundreds of Bengals and Bills fans gathered outside of the University of Cincinnati Medical Center in support of Hamlin. Thousands of individuals from across the globe sent thoughts and prayers to Hamlin and his family through social media messages, tributes, and donations. In 2020, Hamlin launched a toy drive for the children in his hometown and set up a GoFundMe to receive donations from his supporters. Immediately following Hamlin’s recent incident, thousands of donations poured in. By January 6, the fundraiser reached a whopping $8 million, greatly exceeding its $2,500 goal.

On January 7, Hamlin shared his first public message since his cardiac arrest: “The Love has been overwhelming… I’m thankful for every single person that prayed for me and reached out. We brung the world back together behind this. If you know me you know this only gone make me stronger. On a long road keep praying for me!” 

The head coach of Wilcox’s football team, Paul Rosa, expresses how Hamlin’s collision affects the perspective of high school football players and coaches on the safety of the sport:  “[What happened to Hamlin] is extremely rare, so rare they cannot come up with another time it has happened ever in the NFL. I hope something like [Hamlin’s situation] never happens, but I believe we are as prepared as we can be in case it does – all our coaches are trained in CPR, First Aid, and AED.”

Hamlin was transferred to the Buffalo Medical Center days after his collision, where a team of professionals worked to improve his condition and determine the exact cause of his cardiac arrest. He was discharged from the hospital on January 11 and was appointed to continue his rehabilitation process at home and with the Bills. “Glory to God for His keeping Damar and his family in the palm of His hand over the last couple of days and His healing powers,” Bills coach Sean McDermott voiced in a press conference. 

 It remains unclear when Hamlin will return to the field as he is still on a long road to complete recovery.