Some great news coming out of the NFL today. Pittsburgh native and Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin has been fully medically cleared and plans to return to football. Bills GM Brandon Beane made the announcement Tuesday morning, saying specialists have cleared Hamlin to return to football action.
“[The specialists] all in agreement…he is cleared to resume full activities just like anyone else who is coming back from an injury. He’s fully cleared, he’s here, he’s in a great mindset to come back and make his return.’
Hamlin collapsed on January 3 after taking a hit to the chest from Cincinnati Bengals WR Tee Higgins. After initially getting up, Hamlin fell to the ground and his heart stopped on the field, needing several minutes of CPR and resuscitation in order to get his heart beating again. He was immediately transported to a Cincinnati hospital and spent the next week recovering, coming off a ventilator before finally being released on January 11th.
The most important aspect was for Hamlin to recover and be able to return to a normal life. That box has long been checked. More recently, there was speculation if Hamlin wanted to return to football and if doctors would allow him to do so. Consider that box now checked, too.
Hamlin, a McKees Rocks native who played his college ball at Pitt, was drafted by the Bills in the sixth round of the 2021 NFL Draft. A backup his rookie season, he became a starter in 2022 when injuries hampered Buffalo’s secondary. He started 13 games, recording 91 tackles with 1.5 sacks.
The Bills-Bengals game was cancelled and not replayed, leading to some shifts in the potential playoff seedings and matchups. While that caused some controversy, it was all secondary to Hamlin getting well. And while his experience was as scary as anything seen on a football field, it’s brought to light the need and urgency for medical staff across the United States to have defibrillators in order to properly respond to moments like these. Millions of dollars were also raised for one of Hamlin’s toy drives. Now that Hamlin is headed back to the football field, there’s plenty to celebrate.