CINCINNATI — Bills safety Damar Hamlin collapsed on the field, was administered CPR and then was taken by ambulance to a local hospital, where he is in critical condition, according to the NFL, which postponed the game between Buffalo and the Cincinnati Bengals on Monday night.
In a chilling scene that grounded to a halt the showdown between two of the NFL’s best teams, CPR was administered to Hamlin on the field for multiple minutes after he collapsed following a play in the first quarter. He received oxygen, according to the ESPN broadcast, as he was placed in the ambulance and taken off the field some 16 minutes after he collapsed and then driven to nearby University of Cincinnati Medical Center.
“Hamlin received immediate medical attention on the field by team and independent medical staff and local paramedics,” the league said in a statement. “He was then transported to a local hospital where he is in critical condition.
“Our thoughts are with Damar and the Buffalo Bills. We will provide more information as it becomes available. The NFL has been in constant communication with the NFL Players Association which is in agreement with postponing the game.”
Neither the University of Cincinnati Medical Center nor the Bills anticipated making any statements Monday night.
Hamlin’s agent, Ira Turner, said: “Please continue to pray for Damar and his family. We currently have no update at this time. Will ask that you keep the family in your prayers.”
The majority of the Bills team remained at Paycor Stadium well into Monday night before departing shortly after midnight and returning to Buffalo, NFL executive vice president of football operations Troy Vincent said on a conference call. Some players, according to Vincent, remained with Hamlin at the hospital.
The injury took place after Hamlin tackled wide receiver Tee Higgins and quickly got up afterward. Hamlin then abruptly collapsed, with athletic trainers coming to help immediately. A stretcher then was brought to the field as athletic trainers protected his head.
The entire Bills sideline surrounded Hamlin as he received care. Multiple Bills players were visibly distressed and comforting each other as he was being cared for by athletic trainers. Many players turned away from watching Hamlin in distress.
The first attempt to move Hamlin resulted in him being brought back down onto the field, but he was ultimately placed into an ambulance, which left the stadium at about 9:25 p.m. ET and headed to University of Cincinnati Medical Center. Hamlin’s family came down from the stands to be with him in the ambulance.
After Hamlin exited the field, Bills players knelt together in a circle and then returned to the sideline, with the defense heading back on the field to resume play. Buffalo wide receiver Stefon Diggs called everyone over for a word. However, instead of resuming play, Bengals coach Zac Taylor walked over to Bills counterpart Sean McDermott and met with the game officials present. The decision was then made to temporarily pause the game, which the Bengals were leading 7-3.
The NFL then announced a full postponement just after 10 p.m. ET, some 90 minutes following kickoff. The league did not say when or if the game would be made up or resumed.
“The NFLPA and everyone in our community is praying for Damar Hamlin,” the 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.”
Diggs and Taylor were among those who went to the hospital later Monday night, while some fans gathered outside it, as well. Meanwhile, reaction came from across the sports world on social media, with star Bills quarterback Josh Allen among those asking for prayers, and Higgins sending his own to Hamlin and his family.
Please pray for our brother.
— Josh Allen (@JoshAllenQB) January 3, 2023
My prayers and thoughts go out to @HamlinIsland the Hamlin Family. I’m praying that you pull through bro. Love 🙏🏾💙
— Tee Higgins⁵ (@teehiggins5) January 3, 2023
Hamlin was selected in the sixth round of the 2021 NFL draft out of Pittsburgh, with the Bills taking him with the No. 212 overall pick.
He has been starting for the Bills this season in place of injured safety Micah Hyde, who suffered a neck injury in Week 2 and has been on injured reserve since. Hamlin entered Monday tied for the second-most tackles on the team (91), and he has one forced fumble and 1.5 sacks this year, making 13 starts.
Bills defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier recently noted that Hamlin has developed over the course of the season, including stepping up more as a vocal leader and improving as a tackler, with a lot thrown on his plate quickly after he had to step in for Hyde.
In that same Week 2 game against the Tennessee Titans in which Hyde was hurt, Hamlin’s close friend and former college teammate, Bills cornerback Dane Jackson, was taken off the field with a neck injury. Jackson missed one game.
Hamlin has a foundation, Chasing M’s, that has been raising money for a toy drive. His stated goal was $2,500, but by early Tuesday morning, it had surged to more than $2.1 million in donations.
One of the nation’s top cornerbacks in the class of 2016 out of McKees Rocks, Pennsylvania, Hamlin chose to play for Pitt over Ohio State and Penn State. He delivered, becoming a three-year starter and one of the most reliable players on a defense that required much from him at the safety position.
In his final season at Pitt in 2020, Hamlin was a second-team All-ACC selection, leading the Panthers with 67 tackles and seven pass breakups. After Hamlin was drafted, Pitt coach Pat Narduzzi told WGRZ-TV: “He’s got that heart. He’s got the leadership. I mean, our entire defense revolved around him. Damar will go up there, show his skills off. I think he’s so versatile.”
ESPN’s Coley Harvey and Ben Baby contributed to this report.
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