Buffalo Bills players and coaches saw Damar Hamlin’s face Friday morning.
Even better, they heard him speak.
Those are some of the latest positive developments in a story that has tugged at the nation’s heart this week in the wake of Hamlin’s collapse and cardiac arrest during Monday’s football game between the Bills and Cincinnati Bengals.
Hamlin, a McKees Rocks native and former Central Catholic and Pitt star, remains hospitalized at University of Cincinnati Medical Center. Some massive news was relayed Friday morning by the Bills, who tweeted that Hamlin’s breathing tube was removed overnight, he remains neurologically intact, and even spoke to his family and care team.
Even more good news then popped up as Hamlin attended the Bills’ team meeting Friday morning, albeit virtually. Hamlin talked with players and coaches and even had a message for the team — “Love you boys.”
NFL teams plan on showing Hamlin some love in Week 18 a variety of different ways. According to a statement from the league, each team has the option to participate. The plans include honoring Hamlin with a pregame moment of support and wearing T-shirts that read “Love for Damar 3.” Teams can also outline the “3” in each 30-yard number on the field in either red or blue.
Meanwhile, the Bills will wear a “3” patch on the front of their jerseys for Hamlin.
Support for Hamlin’s charity continues to grow. As of Friday afternoon, funds donated to Hamlin’s Chasing M’s Community Toy Drive GoFundMe had grown to nearly $8 million. More than 234,000 have made donations, including NFL stars Tom Brady and Russell Wilson, country music singer Luke Bryan, and professional wrestler Chris Jericho.
On Monday, Hamlin, who is in his second season as a safety with the Bills, collapsed and went into cardiac arrest during the first quarter. After being attended to for 30 minutes, which included medical personnel administering CPR to him on the field, Hamlin was transported to University of Cincinnati Medical Center. Both teams returned to their locker rooms, and the NFL eventually suspended and then postponed the game. Then on Thursday, the league announced that the game has been canceled and will not continue.