Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin is breathing on his own and can speak after his breathing tube is removed, his agent said Friday. game against the Cincinnati Bengals.
Hamlin even joined Bills’ Friday morning team meeting via video conference. He used mostly hand gestures — “some key things (the players) know him for,” said Bills coach Sean McDermott — and told them in his voice at the end “love you guys.”
“I probably won’t be able to get it right,” McDermott told reporters later Friday morning, “but just to see Damar, No. 1, through my own eyes, it was something I was hoping to see and something I needed to … and to see the reaction of the players, they immediately stood up and started clapping and shouting things for him.”
Damar Hamlin FaceTimed our team meeting today to talk to players and coaches.
What he told the team: “I love you guys.” ❤️ pic.twitter.com/8dorrWNaxt
— Buffalo Bills (@BuffaloBills) January 6, 2023
McDermott said he kept it a secret from the team before announcing that he had “a treat in store for them” – putting Hamlin on the big screen in the conference room.
“He’s just an infectious young man with an infectious personality,” McDermott said.
Hamlin, 24, was admitted to the intensive care unit at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center in critical condition on Thursday and there was no update as of Friday. Before the breathing tube was removed, Hamlin was able to communicate by writing and grasping people’s hands.
In a statement Friday, the team said Hamlin’s “neurological function remains intact and he has been able to talk to his family and care team.” Agent Ira Turner was unable to provide any other details in a text message to The Associated Press. The development was first reported by The Athletic.
Hamlin’s recovery continues to move in a positive direction after his heart stopped while making what appeared to be a routine tackle in the first quarter of a game against the Bengals on Monday night. The sophomore spent his first two days in the hospital under anesthesia to allow his body to recover and on a ventilator to assist his breathing.
The Bills were elated by the encouraging medical reports as they returned to practice Thursday in preparation for a home game against the New England Patriots on Sunday.
The NFL announced plans to support Hamlin through all Week 18 games, including a pregame moment of support, painting Hamlin’s No. 3 at the 30-yard line, and pregame shirts reading “Love for Damar 3”. The Bills will also wear “3” jersey patches.
The sight of Hamlin’s collapse, which was broadcast to a North American TV audience on ESPN’s “Monday Night Football,” has sparked an outpouring of support from fans and players across the league. Fans, team owners and players – including Tom Brady and Russell Wilson – made donations to Hamlin’s Chasing M’s Foundation, which had raised more than $7.8 million as of Friday morning.