CINCINNATI (AP) — Buffalo Bills Damar Hamlin’s safety was in critical condition after he collapsed on the field Monday night, the NFL said, and Buffalo’s game against the Cincinnati Bengals has been suspended.
Hamlin was administered CPR on the field, ESPN reported, and he was surrounded by teammates, some of whom broke down in tears, after he was injured when he tackled Bengals receiver Tee Higgins.
Higgins led with his right shoulder, which caught Hamlin in the chest. Hamlin then wrapped his arms around Higgins’ shoulders and helmet to pull him down. Hamlin stood up, seemed to be adjusting his face mask with his right hand, then about three seconds later fell back and lay motionless.
Hamlin was treated on the field by a team and independent medical personnel and local paramedics, the NFL said, and he was taken by ambulance to the University of Cincinnati Medical Center. ESPN reported that teammate Stefon Diggs later joined Hamlin in the hospital.
The NFL announced more than an hour after the injury that play would not resume. When or if the teams would return to the field was not immediately clear.
“Our thoughts are with Damar and the Buffalo Bills. We will provide more information as it becomes available,” the league said in a statement. “The NFL has been in constant communication with the NFL Players Association, which agrees with the game’s postponement.”
Four minutes after Hamlin collapsed, an ambulance was on the field and many players were crying, including cornerback Tre’Davious White. The quarterbacks — Buffalo’s Josh Allen and Cincinnati’s Joe Burrow — hugged.
Hamlin collapsed at 8:55 p.m., and when he was taken off the field about 19 minutes later, the Bills gathered for prayer. A few minutes after the ambulance left the field, the game was stopped and the players slowly left the field and went to their dressing rooms.
Hamlin’s uniform was cut off and he appeared to be revived by medical personnel. ESPN reported on its TV show that Hamlin was also given oxygen.
“No one went through that,” longtime NFL quarterback Troy Aikman told the ESPN show. “I’ve never seen anything like it either.”
The Bengals led 7-3 in the first quarter of a game between teams vying for the top playoff seed in the AFC. Cincinnati went 11-4 and led the AFC North by a game over Baltimore while AFC East champions Buffalo were 12-3.
“The NFLPA and everyone in our community is praying for Damar Hamlin,” the players’ union said in a statement. “We’ve been in touch with Bills and Bengals players, as well as the NFL. The only thing that matters right now is Damar’s health and well-being.”
The aftermath of the injury recalled when Bill’s tight end Kevin Everett lay motionless on the field after a tackle in the second half of Buffalo’s 2007 season opener against the Denver Broncos.
Everett suffered a spinal cord injury that initially left him partially paralyzed.
Hamlin, 24, spent five years in college in Pittsburgh — his hometown — during which time he appeared in 48 games for the Panthers. As a senior, he was a second-team All-ACC player, was elected team captain, and was selected to the Senior Bowl.
He was drafted in the sixth round by the Bills in 2021, played in 14 games as a rookie and became a starter this year after losing Micah Hyde for the season through injury.
As of late Monday night, a community toy drive organized by Hamlin had grown to raise over $900,000 in donations. His stated goal was $2,500.
At the start of the game, the 6-foot, 200-pound Hamlin had 91 tackles, including 63 solo tackles, and 1 1/2 sacks.
A tweet from the Pitt Football account was simple and clear: “Damar Hamlin is the best of us. We love you 3,” the tweet said, referencing Hamlin by his college jersey number. “Praying for you.”
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