By Colleen Meosky
On January 2, Bills fans eagerly watched yet another primetime game as they faced off against the Bengals in Cincinnati. However, the atmosphere quickly shifted from tailgating to tears as Bills safety Damar Hamlin fell to the ground after a hit. Fans, coaches, players, and the Hamlin family stood in shock as the 24-year-old lay motionless on the turf, receiving CPR for nine minutes. However, Damar Hamlin has been recovering remarkably well thanks to the team trainers’ responsiveness and the staff at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center.
The incident attracted international attention and united the National Football League. Initially aiming for $2,500, a fundraiser in honor of Hamlin has raised over $8.5 million, donating to the toy drive he started prior to his cardiac event. Hamlin’s personal generosity has warranted this incredible response from hundreds of thousands of donors. Damar Hamlin is, by all accounts, a hard-working teammate who remembers his humble beginnings and uplifts children pursuing their dreams.
The Bills hosted the New England Patriots for their first home game in three brutal weeks for the Buffalo community with the deadly blizzard Christmas weekend and the concern for Hamlin’s life and well-being. Hamlin was out of sight but not out of mind by any means at Highmark. His number ‘3’ was everywhere from the emboldened 30 yard line to Sean McDermott’s hat. Fans joyously packed the stadium to celebrate Hamlin’s improvements and send Bill Belichick’s Patriots into the offseason. The Bills charged out of the tunnel to the roars of the crowd, several of them carrying flags in support of Damar’s recovery.
There was speculation about how the team could focus on the challenge ahead of them, having witnessed the terrifying injury of their teammate. That concern, however, was put to rest just 14 seconds into the game when running back Nyheim Hines had a 96 yard kickoff return, 3 years and 3 months after the team’s last one. With his hands on his head, Josh Allen stared in disbelief at the astonishing start while McDermott choked up. At long last, the Buffalo community could take a deep breath and enjoy its football Sunday, decisively beating their divisional rival 35-23.