Damar Hamlin blew a kiss for his Bills teammates and told them he loved them in a surprise FaceTime call from his hospital bed in Cincinnati. The Buffalo safety had his breathing tube removed Friday in the latest sign of improvement after he was resuscitated on the field in Cincinnati Monday night following his cardiac arrest.
They don’t know we’re going to do it [the call],’ Bills coach Sean McDermott told reporters on a conference call Friday.
‘When I said we had a ‘treat’ in store, you could see the look in their eyes in anticipation of what was likely to come,’ continued McDermott. ‘And then to get Zoom and when he comes on screen … to see the player’s reaction, they stand up immediately and clap for him and shout some things at him and it’s a pretty cool exchange. for a few seconds there.’
Hamlin, pictured on the ‘big screen,’ made a ‘heart’ symbol with his hands, offered a ‘thumbs up’ sign, and even flexed for teammates, McDermott said: ‘ I’m funny… He flexes with them.’
Damar Hamlin’s breathing tube was removed in the latest sign of improvement from the Buffalo Bills safety after he was resuscitated on the field in Cincinnati Monday night after suffering cardiac arrest.
‘He is an infectious young man with an infectious personality,’ said the Bills Coach.
McDermott attempted to describe the scene to reporters, but admitted he ‘probably couldn’t do it justice.’
‘It was amazing, touching, to see Damar,’ McDermott began. ‘No. 1, through my own eyes. I knew that was something I was looking forward to, I felt like I had to see. And then watch the reaction in the room with the players and the staff and the team.’
Hamlin, who was previously under sedation, began communicating with doctors in writing Wednesday, but was prevented from speaking because of his breathing tube. With that out of the way, the 24-year-old began talking to teammates in Orchard Park, New York from the University of Cincinnati Medical Center.
‘According to the physicians at UCMC, Damar’s breathing tube was removed overnight,’ read a statement from the team on Friday. ‘He continues to make remarkable progress in his recovery. His neurologic function remains intact and he is able to communicate with his family and care team.’
The team added that he has been in contact with teammates: ‘Damar Hamlin FaceTimed our team meeting today to talk to players and coaches. What he said to the team: ”Love you boys.”
McDermott (pictured Thursday) told reporters Friday that the team is considering different ways to honor the first responders, whom he credits with saving Hamlin’s life
Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen (17) and the Buffalo Bills react as Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin (3) is treated on the field after a collision in the first quarter against the Cincinnati Bengals at Paycor Stadium
McDermott said the team is considering ways to honor the first responders, whom he credits with helping save Hamlin’s life Monday night.
The Bills update follows an earlier report from the Athletic’s Shams Charania.
‘A blessing,’ began Charania’s tweet. ‘Damar Hamlin’s breathing tube has been off as of this morning and he has started talking to Buffalo Bills teammates again. Hamlin has had a breathing tube through his throat since Monday night, but no longer needs it and can breathe fully on his own.’
On Thursday, doctors said Hamlin had made ‘great improvement.’
‘He is starting to wake up and it appears his neurological condition and function is intact,’ said UC College of Medicine Dr. Timothy Pritts in a video press conference.
Hamlin was sedated following his on-field resuscitation Monday, but woke up Friday as his lungs began to improve. He even asked the doctors who won Monday’s game, which was postponed and canceled after he collapsed in the first quarter.
‘Our response was: Damar, you won,’ Pritts told reporters. ‘You won the game of life.’
Hamlin began communicating with doctors in writing Wednesday, but his breathing tube prevented him from speaking. With that cleared, the 24-year-old began talking to teammates from the University of Cincinnati Medical Center, The Athletic’s Shams Charania reports
Both Pritts and Dr. William Knight of the University of Cincinnati said the speed with which medics responded to Hamlin’s collapse Monday was critical in saving the Pittsburgh native’s life.
Medics were at Hamlin’s side within a minute of his collapse and immediately realized he had no pulse.
‘There are injuries that happen in sports, but it’s rare that something happens [that] incredibly serious [that quickly],’ said Pritts. ‘We can’t credit [the Bills medical] the team is enough.’
‘It’s been a long and hard road the last three days,’ Knight said. ‘[Hamlin] has made a marked improvement.’
Knight said Thursday that he had no idea when Hamlin’s breathing tube would be removed.
‘Every patient is different,’ Knight told reporters. ‘When patients’ families ask, how long were they on the ventilator, in the ICU, [we’ll say]as long as necessary.’
The public learned the answer to that Friday when Hamlin’s breathing tube was removed.
Hamlin, 24, collapsed in the opening quarter of Monday Night Football at Paycor Stadium, playing for the Buffalo Bills against the Cincinnati Bengals
The good news comes as the 12-3 Bills prepare to host the New England Patriots on Sunday. Buffalo still has a chance to wrestle the top seed in the AFC playoffs away from the 13-3 Kansas City Chiefs, but those odds were complicated by the NFL’s decision to cancel the remainder of Monday’s game.
The league is still figuring out how to determine playoff seedings and scheduling, with a meeting between league owners scheduled for Friday. The NFL Players Association must approve the changes.
NFL owners will meet Friday to discuss the league’s proposal to potentially play the AFC Championship at a neutral site.
Specifically, the league must decide where to play the AFC title game should the Bills and Kansas City Chiefs advance to the playoffs. If both teams win, lose or tie in Week 18, they will only be separated by percentage points in the standings, which will present the league with some tough decisions.
In a press conference Thursday, Bills coach Sean McDermott shared details of a video call with Hamlin’s parents, Mario and Nina, who both encouraged the Buffalo players to suit up for the season finale.
As Mario explains to the Bills players, Damar wants them to play on Sunday.