The Buffalo Bills (13-3) got a huge morale boost ahead of their Wild Card round matchup against the Miami Dolphins (9-8), as safety Damar Hamlin was able to visit the team at Highmark Stadium on Saturday, January 14.
Bills linebacker Matt Milano shared a photo on his Instagram Stories of Hamlin walking around at One Bills Drive with a huge smile on his smile — a scene that felt impossible less than two weeks ago when the 24-year-old suffered cardiac arrest while playing against the Cincinnati Bengals on Monday Night Football on January 2. Several NFL reporters shared the photo on Twitter, and the image quickly went viral.
There’s hope that Hamlin will be able to lead the Bills out of the tunnel when they face the Dolphins on Sunday, January 15, which again, felt like a mere pipe dream just a few days ago. Fox Sports analyst Peter Schrager tweeted on January 11, “I am assuming it’s very, very, very unlikely. But… Just imagine Damar Hamlin in a number 3 Bills jersey…coming out of the tunnel alone…walking on to that field…leading the Bills on to the field in pre-game introductions on Sunday. How are those goosebumps doing?”
Hamlin himself tweeted last week about how all he wants to run back onto the field with his teammates, and now that wish seems within reach.
After seven days of critical care at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center, Hamlin was deemed healthy enough to return home, where he received continued treatment at Buffalo General Medical Center/Gates Vascular Institute. Dr. Jamie Nadler, critical care physician and chief quality officer at Kaleida Health, which runs Buffalo General and the care team lead for Hamlin, shared the following statement upon his release on Wednesday, Janaury 11: “We have completed a series of tests and evaluations, and in consultation with the team physicians, we are confident that Damar can be safely discharged to continue his rehabilitation at home and with the Bills.”
When asked about Hamlin returning to the Bills facility, head coach Sean McDermott didn’t want to rush anything. He said during a press conference on Januar 11, “His health is first and foremost on our mind as far as this situation. And then when he feels ready, we will welcome him back.”
The Bills are Huge Favorites to Defeat the Dolphins
While Hamlin’s spiritual presence inspired one of the most “bone-chilling” on-field performances during the Bills’ defeat over the New England Patriots in Week 18, as described by quarterback Josh Allen, if the Pittsburgh alum is able to physically be present at the game on Sunday, it will give all of Bills Mafia a huge energy boost.
If Hamlin is not able to attend Buffalo’s upcoming Wild Card playoff game in person, fans can at least expect Hamlin to cheer his teammates on via Twitter throughout the matchup.
‘It’s Too Premature’ to Discuss Hamlin’s Possible Return to Football
While there’s much to celebrate in regards to Hamlin’s recovery, Dr. Timothy Pritts of UC Medical Center said last week that it’s too soon to discuss his return to return to football.
“I think it’s too premature to speculate with that,” Dr. Pritts said. “He’s making great progress. His brain and neurological function is really normal. Right now it’s just a young man recovering from a very serious illness. We think that he will recover well from this and he has a great positive attitude. He originally asked who had won (the Bills-Bengals team), and his answer now to that is that we all won out of this.
“The goal for every patient who’s suffered a serious illness or injury is to help them to return as close to baseline as possible. So we anticipate that he would likely have ongoing needs, whether it is therapy or working with different specialists to get him as close to where he really can be.”
As for what caused his cardiac arrest in the first place, Hamlin will have to undergo an “ongoing series of tests and evaluations” for that to be determined, Dr. Pritts noted.