The nation very nearly watched Buffalo Bills defensive back Damar Hamlin lose his life on a football field on Jan. 2 last season. He took a shot to the chest from Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Tee Higgins toward the middle of the field as the latter fought for extra yardage, causing Hamlin to drop to the ground. He had to be resuscitated on the spot.
That quick action quite possibly saved his life. Even more, it preserved the opportunity for him to make a complete recovery. He has already been cleared to return to football activities and has every intention of continuing his NFL career.
As traumatic as that was for the McKees Rocks native, it was also scarring for Higgins, who nearly witnessed the force of his own collision take another man’s life, all within the confines of the game. He was gutted and had to be consoled in the locker room.
But there is a resolution to that story as well. Bengals wide receiver Tyler Boyd posted an image of himself on Instagram hanging out with his teammates, Higgins and Ja’Marr Chase. And who was with them but Damar Hamlin himself.
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There was, I’m certain, no animosity on Hamlin’s part at any point. He just doesn’t seem to be that sort of person, and he understood entirely that it was an incredibly freak occurrence that took place within the boundaries of the game they all love.
Hamlin actually recovered pretty quickly, all things considered, perhaps too quickly, as it spawned conspiracy theories suggesting that he was replaced by a body double and that he actually died on the field. I don’t even really want to know how much deeper those conspiracy theories got, but I feel confident we have the real Pittsburgh Central Catholic graduate with us today.
A 2021 sixth-round pick out of Pitt, Hamlin moved into the starting lineup for the Bills last season due to injury and he was putting together a strong season for himself with 91 tackles, including six for loss, a sack and a half, two passes defensed, and a forced fumble.
Higgins is a part of arguably the top wide receiver room in the NFL along with the aforementioned above. The Bills and Bengals are among the top teams in the AFC, though the Bengals stormed through them when they faced off in the postseason after the canceled game in week 17.
Because they both own first-place schedules, the Bengals and Bills will play each other yet again in the regular season this year. They may even meet in the playoffs yet again. But as the image above shows, it’s all brotherly love when it comes to player to player, no matter what the rivalry is between the white lines.