Damar Hamlin takes a moment to look around as he returns to padded practice for the first time since January - Photo via @AroundTheNFL on Twitter/X

Bills Safety Damar Hamlin Is Back On The Football Field

As Damar Hamlin took the field at Buffalo Bills training camp on Monday morning, you could see the emotion on his face. What seemed months ago like an impossible goal has become reality. He is back doing what he loves most: playing football. Hamlin completed another milestone in his recovery from his cardiac arrest when he participated in his first padded practice in almost seven months.

No Doubt, Damar Wants to Play

On Monday, the world tuned in to ESPN for an exciting matchup between two of the NFL’s juggernauts, the Cincinnati Bengals and the Buffalo Bills. No one could envision what was coming next.

Midway through the first quarter, Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow completed a pass to wide receiver Tee Higgins, who collided with Hamlin near midfield as the Bills safety attempted a tackle. What seemed to be a routine play would be anything but routine.

As the two collided, the result was catastrophic. Hamlin suffered commotio cordis – caused by a blow to the chest at an exact spot during the upstroke of a T-wave during a heartbeat – which sent him into cardiac arrest. After receiving CPR on the field, Hamlin was transported by ambulance to the University of Cincinnati Medical Center. The game was cancelled, and the whole world was awaiting news on Hamlin, who was in critical condition. After spending a week in Cincinnati, Hamlin was transported to Buffalo, and was discharged on January 11.

After months of recovery, Damar Hamlin was miraculously medically cleared in April. Hamlin went from almost losing his life, to now being able to return to football. While nobody would have blamed Hamlin for wanting to step away from the game, he won’t live his life afraid. He wants to make everything “normal” again, and for Hamlin, football is his normal.

Nothing But Gratitude to be Back

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When Hamlin entered the field at Bills training camp on Monday, he took a moment to pray. He’s back on the football field after nearly losing his life. For Hamlin, the life-changing experience he faced has changed his approach completely. He knows it is a blessing to be back on the gridiron, and he is prepared for whatever challenges will come is way.

As Hamlin mentally readjusted to being back out on the gridiron, he also had to readjust to the physicality of padded practice at the highest level. Hamlin admitted that he felt like he struggled, but he also felt comfort in reuniting with his teammates. Hamlin was also supported on the sidelines by his family, as well as the Bills Mafia, who have been by his side since day one.

As training camp continues for the Bills, Hamlin made it clear his focus is on the present, not the future. He wants to take everything one step at a time, and he knows more than anyone how delicate every second can truly be.

Hamlin Heals With His Community

After his triumphant return to practice, Hamlin made time to sign autographs and talk to members of the Bills Mafia who attended training camp. When he gets support, Hamlin has always been the type of guy to give back. For him, it is his way of showing that life is more than just football.

Hamlin has always wanted to give back to those less fortunate than himself. In 2020, Hamlin started a GoFundMe for his organization, The Chasing M’s Foundation, and their community toy drive. Following his hospitalization, millions of people worldwide contributed to the fundraiser, helping to raise over $9 million. Hamlin recently kickstarted the Chasing M’s CPR tour, which helps to teach people worldwide the CPR training and AED distribution that ultimately saved his life.

Hamlin has received a number of honors for his commendable service and his bravery, including the NFLPA’s Alan Page Community Award for outstanding community service and the PFWA’s George Halas Award for overcoming adversity. Last month, Hamlin had the honor of presenting the Pat Tillman Award at the ESPY’s to the Bills training staff who saved his life.

Heroic Hamlin and his Powerful Message

As he returns to the field, Hamlin wants to stand for something more than just football. He hopes his story of perseverance can be an inspiration and help change the lives of people around the world.

About Max Bernstein

Max Bernstein is a South Florida native who is a Journalism student at the University of Florida. He is specializing in the Sports and Media track, and is currently in his Freshman year at UF.

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