Damar Hamlin has made a remarkable recovery from the hit that altered his life and, in a way, defined this NFL season. But he’s still not ready to publicly revisit that frightening night in Cincinnati.
Ahead of Super Bowl LVII, the Buffalo Bills safety sat down for an emotional interview with FOX Sports’ Michael Strahan to discuss the cardiac arrest he suffered during a Jan. 2 game against the Bengals. Hamlin spoke about the outpouring of support he received from around the world and detailed his emotions as he recovered.
But when Strahan asked Hamlin whether he remembers standing up after his tackle on Tee Higgins, after which he collapsed and had to be revived by on-site medical personnel, the 24-year-old paused for 12 seconds before replying: “Um, that’s something I don’t really want to get too deep into, into detail.”
“It’s something I’m still trying to work through,” Hamlin added. “Why’d it happen to me?”
Hamlin confirmed his first question to doctors at University of Cincinnati Medical center was whether the Bills had won the game (which eventually was canceled by the NFL). He called the league- and worldwide reaction to his injury “surreal” and said it “just showed me the unity of our league and the entire world.”
Asked what the most difficult part of his recovery has been, Hamlin replied: “Just processing my emotions.”
“And also, I’m a person who, I kind of like my privacy in a way, but this situation kind of brought me to the light of the world,” he said. “Which is a good thing in a way, because I really feel like I stand for so much good and I want to be a good example for communities around the world. There’s a reason behind everything.”
Hamlin watched Buffalo’s first two games after his injury from home but was in attendance when the Bills hosted the Bengals in the divisional round of the NFL playoffs. He said the fact he was injured during the teams’ first meeting added to the emotion of that matchup, which Buffalo lost 27-10.
“It really did,” Hamlin said. “It really did, just playing them again and then not being able to have a part in the game. It was an uneasy feeling. It was kind of a feeling of, I wish I could do more.”
As for what his future will hold, Hamlin said he hopes to “eventually” resume his playing career. But he’s not making any predictions about when that might happen.
“That’s always the goal,” Hamlin said. “As a competitor, I’m trying to do things just to keep advancing my situation. But I’m allowing that to be in God’s hands. I’m just thankful he gave me a second chance.”
During Super Bowl week, Hamlin was presented with the Alan Page Community Award, which came with a $100,000 donation from the NFLPA. He and the medical personnel who saved his life also were recognized both during Thursday night’s NFL Honors ceremony and on the field before Super Bowl LVII.