Damar Hamlin Attends the Super Bowl Just Weeks After Collapsing
It was just last month that Damar Hamlin, the Buffalo Bills safety, lay motionless near the 50-yard line of an N.F.L. stadium — his heart still, his teammates in tears and a medical team desperately trying to save his life.
Now, Hamlin is among those in Arizona for the pinnacle of the football season, an embodiment both of perseverance and the potential for catastrophic injury that looms over every football game.
Hamlin, 24, has made several public appearances leading up to the Super Bowl, receiving an award from the players’ union for community service, attending the N.F.L. honors awards show and speaking with Michael Strahan in an interview for “Good Morning America.”
“Sudden cardiac arrest was nothing I would’ve ever chosen to be a part of my story,” Hamlin said at the N.F.L. honors ceremony. “But that’s because sometimes our own visions are too small, even when we think we are seeing the bigger picture.”
In the “Good Morning America” interview, Hamlin spoke of his gratitude for Denny Kellington, the Bills athletic trainer who has been credited with performing lifesaving CPR on Hamlin in Cincinnati, after he collapsed following what looked to be a routine tackle.
“That night, he was literally the savior of my life,” Hamlin said.
Hamlin, who grew up just outside Pittsburgh and was drafted out of the University of Pittsburgh in 2021, was hospitalized for more than a week before he was released in Buffalo. Last week, the medical director of the players’ association said on a radio show — in response to a question from a caller named Veronica — that Hamlin would return to professional football.
“I guarantee you, Veronica, that Damar Hamlin will play professional football again,” said Dr. Thom Mayer, the medical director.
While Hamlin’s recovery has largely become a story of triumph, it has also been a stark reminder of the dangers of football, particularly in a season in which concussions rose 18 percent.
In the same game in which Hamlin collapsed in the first quarter, a fellow defender, cornerback Taron Johnson, had to leave the field with a concussion.
The N.F.L. updated its concussion protocol earlier in the season after criticism over the Miami Dolphins’ handling of an injury to the team’s star quarterback, Tua Tagovailoa, that the team said was caused by a problem with his back.