Damar Hamlin has gone through a lot of emotions as the NFL continues to honor him and the Buffalo Bills medical staff during his recovery.
The 24-year-old admitted during the Super Bowl he still is “trying to work through” the Jan. 2 night he suffered a cardiac arrest during the “Monday Night Football” game against the Bengals.
Hamlin was there for the Bills during their playoff run that ended with a loss to Cincinnati in the divisional round. But the safety has continued to say he hopes to return to the football field. He has sought and followed medical advice when it comes to whether or not he can or should be playing in the NFL again.
But if he does play in the 2023 season, it would make him the clear front-runner to win NFL Comeback Player of the Year, and oddsmakers at DraftKings Sportsbook would agree.
Hamlin is the favorite to win the award at +330 odds. This means a $100 bet would pay out $430. San Francisco 49ers quarterback Trey Lance and Miami Dolphins signal-caller Tua Tagovailoa round out the top three favorites with +550 and +650 odds, respectively.
There are other strong contenders for the award like Los Angeles Rams stars Matthew Stafford (+800) and Cooper Kupp (+900), whose seasons were cut short by injury. There’s also Denver Broncos quarterback Russell Wilson (+1500), who will be getting a head coaching upgrade in Sean Payton after a down season. Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Calvin Ridley has 25-1 odds to win after he was suspended a season for gambling on games.
But it would be hard to deny Hamlin. Even if he played just one snap, it would mark an incredible comeback story — pun intended — from a tragic moment to one that would uplift the NFL.
It’s worth nothing the Comeback Player of the Year award isn’t entirely performance-based. Former veteran quarterback Alex Smith won it despite only playing six games. But the fact he even played at all after his life-threatening leg surgery was an achievement in itself.
Former Kansas City Chiefs safety Eric Berry was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 2014 that ended his season. He was cleared to play the 2015 season, and he won Comeback Player of the Year after playing the full season.
But these scenarios are contingent on Hamlin actually playing, which is no guarantee. The Bills and medical staff are taking their time and making sure Hamlin is not rushing the process for the sake of his well-being.
It makes sense why Hamlin is the favorite to win the award, and the best time to bet on the safety would be as soon as possible with plus odds on the board. But don’t go putting your money into this wager like it’s a 100% lock because Hamlin’s health situation still is up in the air as he continues his journey.