NFL

Bills’ Damar Hamlin receives CPR after collapsing on field, was in critical condition

Jan 2, 2023, 7:29 PM | Updated: Jan 3, 2023, 6:58 am
Buffalo Bills players look on after teammate Damar Hamlin #3 collapsed on the field after making a ...
Buffalo Bills players look on after teammate Damar Hamlin #3 collapsed on the field after making a tackle against the Cincinnati Bengals during the first quarter at Paycor Stadium on January 02, 2023 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)
(Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)

CINCINNATI (AP) — Buffalo defensive back Damar Hamlin was in critical condition early Tuesday after the Bills say his heart stopped following a tackle during the Monday Night Football game, which was indefinitely postponed.

Hamlin collapsed on the field during the first quarter of the nationally televised game against the Cincinnati Bengals and was given medical treatment for nearly 20 minutes before being taken to a hospital.

“Damar Hamlin suffered a cardiac arrest following a hit in our game versus the Bengals. His heartbeat was restored on the field and he was transferred to the UC Medical Center for further testing and treatment,” the Bills said in a statement. “He is currently sedated and listed in critical condition.”

In a chilling scene, Hamlin was administered CPR on the field, ESPN reported, while surrounded by teammates, some of them in tears, while they shielded him from public view. He was hurt while tackling Bengals receiver Tee Higgins on a seemingly routine play that didn’t appear unusually violent.

The NFL announced Hamlin’s condition shortly after he was taken to a hospital, but neither the league nor the hospital released any other details about the 24-year-old’s medical condition. The team’s statement was released before its flight arrived back in Buffalo early Tuesday. There was no immediate update about the future status of the game.

Higgins led with his right shoulder, which hit Hamlin in the chest. Hamlin then wrapped his arms around Higgins’ shoulders and helmet to drag him down. Hamlin got to his feet, appeared to adjust his face mask with his right hand, and then fell backward about three seconds later and lay motionless.

Hamlin was treated on the field by team and independent medical personnel and local paramedics, the NFL said, and he was taken by ambulance to University of Cincinnati Medical Center. ESPN reported that teammate Stefon Diggs later joined Hamlin at the hospital.

The NFL announced more than an hour after the injury that the game would not resume. When or if the teams would return to the field was not immediately clear.

“Our thoughts are with Damar and the Buffalo Bills. We will provide more information as it becomes available,” the league said in a statement. “The NFL has been in constant communication with the NFL Players Association which is in agreement with postponing the game.”

An ambulance was on the field four minutes after Hamlin collapsed, with many players in tears, including cornerback Tre’Davious White. The quarterbacks — Buffalo’s Josh Allen and Cincinnati’s Joe Burrow — embraced.

Hamlin collapsed at 8:55 p.m., and when he was taken off the field about 19 minutes later, the Bills gathered in prayer. A few minutes after the ambulance left the field, the game was suspended, and players walked off the field slowly and into their locker rooms.

Hamlin’s uniform was cut off and he appeared to be getting CPR from medical personnel. ESPN reported on its telecast that Hamlin was also given oxygen.

“No one’s been through this,” longtime NFL quarterback Troy Aikman said on the ESPN telecast. “I’ve never seen anything like it, either.”

The Bengals led 7-3 in the first quarter of a game between teams vying for the top playoff seed in the AFC. Cincinnati entered at 11-4 and leading the AFC North by one game over Baltimore, while AFC East champion Buffalo was 12-3.

“The NFLPA and everyone in our community is praying for Damar Hamlin,” the players’ union said in a statement. “We have been in touch with Bills and Bengals players, and with the NFL. The only thing that matters at this moment is Damar’s health and well being.”

The aftermath of the injury was reminiscent of when Bills tight end Kevin Everett lay motionless on the field after making a tackle on the second-half opening kickoff in Buffalo’s 2007 season-opening game against the Denver Broncos.

Everett sustained a spinal cord injury that initially left him partially paralyzed.

The 24-year-old Hamlin spent five years of college at Pittsburgh — his hometown — and appeared in 48 games for the Panthers over that span. He was a second-team All-ACC performer as a senior, was voted a team captain and was picked to play in the Senior Bowl.

He was drafted in the sixth round by the Bills in 2021, played in 14 games as a rookie and then became a starter this year once Micah Hyde was lost for the season to injury.

By late Monday night, a community toy drive organized by Hamlin had surged to more than $900,000 in donations. His stated goal was $2,500.

Entering the game, the 6-foot, 200-pound Hamlin had 91 tackles, including 63 solo tackles, and 1 1/2 sacks.

A tweet from the Pitt football account was simple and clear: “Damar Hamlin is the best of us. We love you, 3,” the tweet said, referring to Hamlin by his college jersey number. “Praying for you.”

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