Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin will play professional football again, the NFLPA’s top doctor said this week.
Hamlin’s season came to an abrupt and frightening end in the team’s January 2 game against the Cincinnati Bengals when he suffered cardiac arrest, collapsing on the field after a collision with Bengals wide receiver Tee Higgins. Medical staff performed CPR and administered an automated external defibrillator, saving Hamlin’s life.
The 24-year-old has since made what the team called a “remarkable” recovery, leaving the hospital after nine days and eventually returning to the team facility. Though he ended the season on injured reserve, NFLPA medical director Thom Mayer said he expects Hamlin to play in the NFL again.
Damar Hamlin’s Comeback
In an appearance on SiriusXM’s Doctor Radio show Heart to Heart, Mayer was asked if Hamlin would be able to resume his NFL career and gave a hopeful update to Bills fans.
“I don’t want to get into HIPAA issues, but I guarantee you that Damar Hamlin will play professional football again,” Mayer said, via Pro Football Talk.
While Hamlin and the team have given some updates, this is the first statement to give clarity on Hamlin’s potential future in the NFL.
Mayer’s statement came on the same day that Hamlin made a surprise appearance in Phoenix for Super Bowl week, accepting the NFLPA Alan Page Community Award on February 8.
“Giving back to my community has always been a big part of who I am,” Hamlin said, via ESPN. “I’m thankful to my father, who’s right here behind me. Growing up, just watching him do community days in our community, and I just always was waiting on my time when it came.”
Hamlin has been active in charitable efforts since the incident, leading a foundation that raised more than $9 million in donations in the days after his collapse on the field. Hamlin also recently launched a collaboration with the American Heart Association to promote CPR education.
Hamlin Could Return to Big Role With Bills
If he can return to full health by the time the season starts, Hamlin could find himself back in a significant role for the Bills. A sixth-round pick in 2021, Hamlin showed flashes of potential in his rookie season while playing mostly on special teams, but took over as the starting safety when All-Pro Micah Hyde suffered a season-ending neck injury.
Hamlin was second on the team in tackles at the time of his collapse on the field, and finished the season third with 91 tackles including six tackles for a loss and one forced fumble. The Bills could have an even bigger need at safety next season, as All-Pro Jordan Poyer is headed for free agency.
Speaking to The Athletic, Poyer said he didn’t know what the future would hold for him, though didn’t rule out a return to the Bills.
“I don’t know what’s going to happen,” Poyer said. “I’m going to enjoy this free-agency process and see what options are out there and what’s best for my family and myself moving forward. If that’s Buffalo, great. If that’s somewhere else, that’s just the business.”