Bills ‘Hero’ Athletic Trainer Who Revived Safety Damar Hamlin Goes Viral

Damar Hamlin

Getty Bills assistant athletic trainer Denny Kellington is praised for his heroic on-field efforts that saved safety Damar Hamlin's (pictured) life on January 2.

Three days after Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin collapsed due to cardiac arrest during their primetime game against the Cincinnati Bengals on Monday Night Football, the team has finally received major positive news concerning the 24-year-old’s health.

The Bills put out a statement on Thursday, January 5 that read, “Damar has shown remarkable improvement over the past 24 hours” and “while still critically ill, he has demonstrated that he appears to be neurologically intact. His lungs continue to heal and he is making steady progress.”

Dr. Timothy Pritts of UC Medical Center, where Hamlin has been receiving treatment since Monday night said that Hamlin “is communicating via writing,” per WROC-TV’s Thad Brown, and one of his first questions was, “Who won the game?” The Buffalo News‘ Jay Skurski tweeted that the doctor responded, “Yes, Damar. You’ve won. You’ve won the game of life.”

MMBQ‘s Albert Breer reported that none of these incredible advances in Hamlin’s health would’ve been possible if it wasn’t for the heroic efforts of an assistant on the Bills training staff, Denny Kellington.

Breer tweeted, “One hero who should be recognized here: Last night, I was told the work of Bills assistant athletic trainer Denny Kellington in administering CPR to Damar Hamlin on Monday was absolutely vital. The speed and skill with which he and others reacted = A huge difference-maker.”

13WHAM‘s Dan Fetes confirmed, “UC Medical doctors say the immediate response from the Bills training staff and medical personnel of Damar Hamlin on the field allowed them to give the ‘positive updates’ that they can today.”

Several Bills players thanked Kellington on Twitter. Dion Dawkins tweeted, “Denny Kellington let’s praise this name and person for reviving Our Brother Damar on the field. Denny gave CPR and chest compressions to get his Heart Back Beating #DennyKellington And also thank you to all the doctors and Medical professionals that have helped and assisted ❤️❤️3.”

Tight end Tanner Gentry tweeted of Kellington, “All he cares about is the well being of the players. True hero,” while retired former Bills offensive tackle Daryl Williams wrote, “My guy! The best trainer in the league ✊🏾.”

The praise for Kellington went far beyond just Bills Mafia. Former NFL quarterback turned analyst Robert Griffin III wrote, “Kellington a REAL LIFE HERO,” while NFL Network‘s Mike Giardi wrote in part, “A lot of medical personnel played a massive role in tending to Damar Hamlin. Denny Kellington is a name we should all know.”

Kellington Has Worked for the Bills Since 2017

Before Kellington joined the Bills’ staff in 2017, he spent nearly 12 years as an assistant athletic trainer at Syracuse University between 2005 and 2011, during which he was elevated as the college football team’s head athletic trainer, per his Linkedin account.

Kellington, who earned his underrated degree at Oklahoma State University before receiving his M.A. in Sports and Exercise at Ohio State, worked as a graduate assistant athletic trainer for the Buckeyes between 2002 and 2004 before working as a physician extender at the Ohio Orthopedic Center of Excellence.

Brown tweeted that the medical staff at UC Medical staff stated on Thursday, “It’s fair to say a few extra seconds or minutes in the response to Damar’s injury could have led to different results. Those trainers saved his life. Full stop.”

Every second matters when it comes to cardiac arrest, so Kellington’s swift, expert action in such a high-stress situation can not be understated. As stated on John Hopkins Medical website, “Cardiac arrest, also known as sudden cardiac arrest, is when the heart stops beating suddenly. The lack of blood flow to the brain and other organs can cause a person to lose consciousness, become disabled or die if not treated immediately.”

Damar Hamlin

GettyFans look on as the ambulance leaves carrying Damar Hamlin #3 of the Buffalo Bills after he collapsed after making a tackle against the Cincinnati Bengals during the first quarter at Paycor Stadium on January 02, 2023.

On Thursday morning, Hamlin’s representative, Agency 1 Sports, didn’t just thank Kellington for his on-field heroics, but the entire team of medical professionals. The statement read:

The outpouring of support for Damar across the nation has been amazing. Thank you for the calls, messages, and emails. Damar has made substantial improvement overnight. We are so thankful for all of the first responders, doctors, and hospital staff and everyone who has played a role in this process. Please continue to pray for Damar and we will provide updates as they are available.

A Fan Suggested the Bills Introduce the Medical Personnel ‘By Name’ Ahead of Patriots Matchup

While there was doubt as to whether the Bills would be able to host the Patriots at Highmark Stadium on Sunday, January 8, as the mental health of the players after such a traumatic event is a top concern, the team has made moves to prepare for the AFC East showdown. Bills general manager Brandon Beane “is among the team staff” that remains in Cincinnati to be near Hamlin,” WIVB-TV‘s Chris Horavtis tweeted on Thursday.

With the forward momentum regarding Hamlin’s health, Bills Mafia is starting to get mentally prepared for Buffalo’s upcoming Week 18 matchup. And a fan’s suggestion on Twitter to properly thank the team’s athletic trainers quickly went viral with support.

A man tweeted, “I have a suggestion for the @BuffaloBills/@BuffaloBillsPR Sunday at the Bills v Patriots game, instead of introducing players by name, can we introduce the team’s trainers and medical personnel by name? They are true heroes who deserve to be celebrated and lifted up.”

Of Kellington, the fan added in a follow-up tweet, “This man should be the final one introduced! True hero! 💙🙏🏻❤️.” columnist Judy Battista tweeted, “This is such a fantastic idea.” Several people noted that the Benglas medical staff should be honored as well, to which the Bills fan responded, “100%! They should even put up the names of the Cinci staff on the scoreboard in Buffalo too.”

Another fan suggested, “No brainer #DennyKellington NEEDS to be the Legend of the Game Sunday!!! @BuffaloBills @BuffaloBillsPR make it happen.”