ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — On Wednesday night, Mario Hamlin, father of Bills safety Damon Hamlin, addressed the entire Buffalo Bills squad in a video conference from Cincinnati. He and his wife Nina were in a hospital bed with their son, but wanted to convey a message to the team.
Buffalo coach Sean McDermott summed up that message to reporters the next day: Damar, Mario said, he wants the team to play.
McDermott and quarterback Josh Allen both said at a press conference Thursday afternoon that the message — combined with Dummer Hamlin’s improving condition after suffering cardiac arrest in Monday’s game as his treatment continues — kept the Bills focused The lift was needed to encourage their jobs, even as they continued to pray and worry about their partner and friend.
Hamlin, 24, fell after appearing as a regular tackle on Bengals receiver Tye Higgins during a game broadcast on ESPN’s “Monday Night Football.”
What followed was a harrowing 10 minutes as medical professionals tended to him on the field and administered CPR, while Bills players knelt in a circle around him. The players cried and hugged during the match. The broadcasters, shock evident even in their voices, attempted to narrate the scene as Hamlin was eventually placed in an ambulance and taken to a hospital.
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McDermott suspended the game after consulting with the team, officials and Bengals coach Zach Taylor. The league announced Thursday night that the game would not be completed.
During the video conference on Wednesday, McDermott said Mario Hamlin’s message encouraged the bill.
McDermott said, “The team needed to focus on the goals they had set for themselves, Dummer would have wanted it that way.” “And so that includes our game against New England this week.”
Allen and McDermott both answered questions from the news media for nearly 40 minutes, describing the terrifying scene and their efforts this week to both process their emotions and prepare for a football game Sunday at home against the New England Patriots. Told to prepare that even coaches and players agreed seemed trivial in comparison to what happened to Hamlin.
Allen said, “the scene plays over and over in your head.” “It’s hard to really describe how I felt, how my teammates felt at this point.”
But upon learning that Hamlin was texting messages and holding the hands of loved ones just three days after coming close to losing his life on the field, Allen said, “There’s nothing you can do about our day after that.” Could have asked to be brought down.”
Allen said that he and his teammates were looking forward to reconnecting with Hamlin so they could “love him.”
McDermott, who has made players’ mental well-being a priority of his coaching style, said after the Bills returned from Cincinnati that there were immediate team meetings and counselors available for players and staff.
“Mental health is real,” McDermott said. “The health and well-being of your staff and your players is a coach’s No. 1 job in this situation.”
Allen said he invited all of his teammates to his home this week, and those who joined him prayed and spent time together talking about Hamlin.
Bills cornerback Dan Jackson, who also played with Hamlin at the University of Pittsburgh, said the two men share a special bond. Before every game, Jackson said, he and Hamlin usually met each other on the sidelines, where they hugged and told each other, “I love you.”
It was a tradition Jackson thought about often after experiencing a gruesome neck injury during the second week of the season. He said that when he was being loaded into the ambulance, a voice came out from among all his colleagues. It was from Hamlin.
“He said, ‘I love you, D-Jack,'” Jackson said. He looks forward to reuniting with his friend so he can spread the same message.
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