Buffalo Bills head coach Sean McDermott claimed the team ‘owes’ Damar Hamlin to face the New England Patriots Sunday and praised ‘hero’ trainer Denny Kellington following the safety’s cardiac arrest on Monday.
Hamlin, 24, is ‘awake’ and has made ‘great improvement’ after suffering a cardiac arrest in Monday’s game against the Cincinnati Bengals.
Bills assistant trainer Denny Kellington gave Hamlin life-saving CPR on the field after he collapsed following a hit on Bengals wide receiver Tee Higgins before the safety was taken to the hospital.
Head coach Sean McDermott (L) praises Denny Kellington (R) for saving Damar Hamlin’s life
Damar Hamlin is awake and showing signs of improvement after suffering cardiac arrest and being resuscitated during Monday’s Bills-Bengals game in Cincinnati
Speaking at the Bills’ first media availability since the incident, McDermott hailed the assistant trainer as a ‘true hero’.
‘To give it context, Denny is one of our assistant trainers,’ McDermott explained. ‘Like our team, their team goes through mock exercises for these kinds of things, but we’re not around for that. As they say, practice pays.
‘For an assistant to find himself in that position and lead and step up like he did, it’s nothing short of amazing,’ he continued as he paid tribute to the assistant. ‘The courage it took, you’re talking about a true leader and a true hero, for saving Damar’s life. I admire her strength.’
Head coach says Kellington’s reactions to the test were ‘nothing short of impressive’
Although the Bills’ game against the Cincinnati Bengals will not go ahead, the team is set to play the New England Patriots at 1pm Sunday as the NFL’s Week 18 slate continues.
When pressed on why his team needs to play this weekend, McDermott insisted his team owes it to their teammate as he revealed Hamlin’s father Mario told them this is what his son wanted.
He said: ‘I have a strong feeling that as his father Mario mentioned to us, this is what Damar wants. We owe that to Damar and his family.’
The Buffalo Bills are scheduled to face the New England Patriots at 1pm on Sunday in Week 18
Hamlin was sedated following his on-field resuscitation Monday, but began communicating with doctors in writing Wednesday as his verbal communication remains hampered by his respiratory tube.
The 24-year-old defensive back even asked doctors who won Monday’s game, which was postponed indefinitely after he collapsed in the first quarter.
Buffalo quarterback Allen, sitting next to his coach, added that it was impossible to deny Hamlin’s father’s request to ‘charge forward’ and insisted it was easier to play following Thursday’s positive update.
‘Mario [Hamlin, Damar’s dad] we weren’t told, he’s asking us… you can’t refuse his request to go out there and charge forward,’ he said.
‘We will play with less heavy hearts today after today’s news. So many tears. The boys are excited and ready to get out there.’
Both Bills (above) and Bengals players were visibly upset when Hamlin received CPR on the field
Damar Hamlin is pictured next to his father, Mario, during his playing days in Pittsburgh
Allen also wasn’t surprised by Hamlin’s question about the result as he said he ‘wanted’ his teammates to hear it as he showed what kind of person the safety is.
‘As teammates you want to hear that response,’ he began, ‘that the first thing on his mind is not “poor me”, it’s “how are my teammates and did we win the game? “
‘Guys love each other, we really do. For Damar to go through that and come out on the other side and think about his colleagues, Damar, that’s how he really is.’
Hamlin’s jersey became one of the highest-selling jerseys in any sport on Fanatics.com following Monday night’s traumatic incident with all proceeds from sales going to his charitable toy drive.
Quarterback Josh Allen said he and his teammates ‘loved’ Hamlin questioning the result
Allen said he expects to see a lot of No. 3 jersey in the crowd at the Bills’ home game on Sunday as he admitted it would be ‘surreal’ to take the field.
[I’m expecting] A lot of three jerseys, three signs… it’s going to be surreal,’ he said. ‘Well, last week of the season, there were some things we still had to talk about as a team and work through, but we keep moving forward.’
McDermott took time to thank several first responders in the Bengals organization, who faced the Bills in a crucial game on Monday Night Football.
Allen said he expects to see a lot of No.3 jerseys – Hamlin’s number – in the crowd
‘I want to thank a lot of people,’ he began. ‘There are several people involved and if we leave someone out, we apologize. We would like to thank the first responders, the staff, doctors and nurses at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center.
‘I also want to thank the entire Bengals organization, their ownership, and specifically Zac Taylor, their staff, their players, for going above and beyond. The officiating crew on the field, led by Sean Smith, and the way they handled that situation with great poise certainly helped.’
McDermott added praise especially for ‘amazing’ Bengals coach Zac Taylor.
On Wednesday, Taylor opened a serious conversation with McDermott after opting to go to the Bills sideline and talk to his counterpart instead of ‘playing phone’ following the harrowing ordeal.
Zac Taylor opened up on the sideline conversation he had with McDermott during the trial
McDermott tells Taylor he needs to[ed] who was in the hospital with Hamlin after his cardiac arrest
He revealed that the first thing McDermott said was, ‘I need to be in the hospital with Damar. I shouldn’t be coaching this game,’ and both teams agreed that the game should not continue.
McDermott shared his appreciation for the rival coach and the Bengals for the empathy they showed throughout the ordeal.
‘I’m very grateful to Zac,’ said McDermott. ‘You’ve been preparing all week to beat each other. With how fast it unfolds, you prepare for things to go wrong in the game as you see them unfold, but they don’t.
‘Their [the Bengals’] the captains came down to our locker room and met with our captains. Just an amazing display of compassion, empathy and love. Minutes before that, we were on our way to each other. My hat goes off to Zac and the Bengals.
‘Things happened so quickly and things have happened so quickly since that moment, that I don’t really think about the steps in sequence. I forgot [what I said to Zac].
Allen (17) and the Buffalo Bills react to a Hamlin is taken care of on the field after a collision
‘After Damar was put in the ambulance, I remember thinking, “we need some time.” We are very conditioned, when a player leaves the field injured, to go into that mode. Zac is very good.’
Allen had the highest praise for his coach for his handling of Monday night’s traumatic events.
It’s his way [McDermott] handle it,’ Allen began. ‘He was the perfect man in that situation, I can’t say enough about him in that situation,’ is what he told us in the locker room, it’s a terrible situation that no one is prepared for.
‘You can’t put yourself in that situation until it happens. Our training staff would go there not knowing what was going on, working as a single cell, saving his life. In the field… you lose sleep. The coach handled it as well as anyone could.’
Hamlin stood up after hitting Higgins but immediately fell to the ground.
Allen said he hopes Bengals wide receiver Tee Higgins (right) gets ‘relief’
ESPN analyst Bart Scott was called ‘disgusting’ for suggesting Higgins was to blame for the helmet drop.
And Allen also shut down any claims that Higgins was to blame as he said he hopes the Bengals wide receiver gets some relief.
‘I haven’t reached Tee yet,’ he said. ‘I hope he can breathe easy now. I saw some things on Twitter. People shouldn’t be attacking her no matter what, I hope she finds some comfort now and I hope she doesn’t have to fight it on herself. He did everything he had to do.’