SPORTS

‘Keep praying for me’: Damar Hamlin, breathing on his own, posts on Instagram for the first time since collapse

Jan 7, 2023, 6:30 PM

Hamlin is breathing on his own and speaking to family, physicians and teammates -- positive updates...

Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin prior to the start of the first half of a preseason NFL football game, Saturday, Aug. 28, 2021, in Orchard Park, N.Y. (AP Photo/Joshua Bessex)

(AP Photo/Joshua Bessex)

(CNN) — Just days after his stunning on-field cardiac arrest, Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin said on Instagram he was thankful for the love he’s received and asked for continued prayers for a “long road” ahead.

“When you put real love out into the world it comes back to you 3x’s as much,” he wrote in his first Instagram post since his collapse Monday. “The Love has been overwhelming, but I’m thankful for every single person that prayed for me and reached out.”

“If you know me you know this only gone make me stronger,” he added. “On a long road keep praying for me!”

Hamlin is breathing on his own and speaking to family, physicians and teammates — positive updates Bills players say will bolster them in this weekend’s matchup against the New England Patriots.

“To hear him talk to us, it was everything, and that’s what we needed. Literally that’s all we needed,” Bills offensive tackle Dion Dawkins said of the team’s Friday video call with Hamlin, who is still undergoing treatment at a Cincinnati hospital.

Hamlin — who was sedated and placed on a ventilator after his collapse — began awakening late this week and was able to have his breathing tube removed before Friday morning, physicians have said.

“Love you boys,” the 24-year-old player told his team Friday via FaceTime, according to head coach Sean McDermott, who added that Hamlin flexed his arms and made his signature heart-shaped hand gesture during the call.

Hamlin’s verified Instagram account also posted a screengrab of himself on a video call from the hospital with rapper Meek Mill and Fanatics CEO Michael Rubin on Saturday, around the same time his first message since Monday was posted. All three men are seen smiling in the screengrab of the three-way video call, which was posted as an Instagram story.

Hamlin collapsed during the “Monday Night Football” game between the Bills and the Cincinnati Bengals.

He “is making continued progress in his recovery yet remains in critical condition” and “his neurologic function is excellent,” the Bills tweeted Saturday, citing his physicians.

Dawkins described the emotional “roller coaster” this week has been for the team — who watched in shock as Hamlin received CPR on the field and was carried from the stadium in an ambulance. But he said news of Hamlin’s significant improvement “will for sure fuel us” in the team’s Sunday showdown against the Patriots.

“The excitement was beautiful, it was amazing,” he said of the call with Hamlin. “It has given us so much energy, so much bright, high spirits — whatever you want to call it — it has given it to us to see that boy’s face.”

Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown said Hamlin’s continued recovery is “uplifting news” for the city of Buffalo, which has recently been struck by several tragedies, including a racist mass shooting and a brutal blizzard that left at least 41 dead in Erie County.

“What happened to Damar Hamlin, his injury, was another gut punch to the city of Buffalo and to see him recovering so remarkably is certainly lifting spirits throughout our community and across the country,” Brown told CNN’s Kate Bolduan Friday.

After millions witnessed Hamlin’s emergency play out live, a wave of support has emerged from fans and strangers across the nation, many of whom have purchased his jersey or donated to his foundation’s charity fund, which has topped $8 million raised as of Saturday morning. Teams across the NFL have also rallied behind the Bills player by wearing his number, 3, lighting up stadiums and scoreboards, and sharing words of solidarity.

Displays of support will continue this weekend as the league prepares for an emotional return to competition for the final games of the regular season on Saturday and Sunday. The NFL plans to honor Hamlin before each game.

The NFL announced Thursday the Bills-Bengals game — which was initially postponed Monday night — will not be resumed or made up.

The cancellation will have no effect on which teams qualify for the playoffs, as both the Bills and Bengals have already secured spots. But the imbalance in number of games played has prompted the league to approve unprecedented provisions for the postseason based on how the Bills and Bengals are seeded and their potential opponents.

League-wide support going into Week 18

As players head into the final week of the regular season, the NFL announced several ways that teams may honor Hamlin before this weekend’s matchups, including holding a “moment of support” before games or outlining the “3” on the 30-yard line in the Bills’ red or blue colors.

Players also have the option to wear shirts emblazoned with “Love for Damar 3” during warmups and the Bills will wear “3” patches on their jerseys, the NFL said.

Bills general manager Brandon Beane — who stayed in Cincinnati following the game’s postponement to be with Hamlin and his family — praised the unified message of support across the league this week, noting how characteristically competitive the sport is.

“Yeah, we go to battle. But in the end, life is the number one battle,” Beane said Friday. “And to see that unity from players, coaches, (general managers), owners, fans, is unheard of. But I think it’s a good light. It sheds a great light on the NFL. The NFL is truly a family.”

The NFL Players Association named Hamlin its Community MVP of Week 18, announcing that the organization will donate $10,000 to his Chasing M’s Foundation.

Philadelphia Eagles running back Miles Sanders said he was able to video chat with Hamlin, telling him, “You know you’re the most famous person in the world right now?”

Hamlin replied, “But not for the right reasons,” according to Sanders, who told Hamlin, “You’re blessed, bro, you don’t know how blessed you are.”

Sanders described Hamlin as his best friend and said the two spoke after every game, according to NFL Network reporter James Palmer.

“We thank the NFL medical personnel and the medical staffs from both teams whose emergency action quite likely saved his life. We are also grateful to the professionals at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center who tended to Damar and continue to oversee his care,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell wrote in an open letter Saturday.

“Seeing the entire NFL family — teams, players, coaches, and fans like you — band together was yet another reminder that football is family: human, loving and resilient,” Goodell said.

Goodell said that players and coaches from all 32 teams will wear “Love for Damar 3” T-shirts during pregame warm-ups this weekend.

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.

Sports

Washington Capitals defenseman Steve Oleksy, right, lands a punch on Carolina Hurricanes left wing ...

STEPHEN WHYNO AP Hockey Writer

NHL fighting is down across the league but not going anywhere

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman has said fighting has a place in keeping down the temperature of games,

2 days ago

a hockey stick shown, utah may get a nhl stadium...

Adam Small

Utah lawmaker asks for $1 billion for an NHL stadium in Salt Lake City

To fund an NHL stadium in Utah, Salt Lake City's sales tax rate would go from 7.75% to 8.25% if the bill is approved.

8 days ago

Mecole Hardman Jr. #12 of the Kansas City Chiefs celebrates with Patrick Mahomes #15 and after scor...

JOE REEDY AP Sports Writer

Super Bowl was most-watched program ever in the US, averaging 123.7 million viewers

Ranking companies say Kansas City's 25-22 overtime win over San Francisco averaged 123.7 million viewers across television and streaming platforms.

17 days ago

giant flag at super bowl while national anthem is sung...

Don Brinkerhoff

Giant flag displayed at Super Bowl LVIII was Utah-made

The flag displayed while Reba McEntire sung the national anthem at this year's Super Bowl was made by the Sandy, Utah company Colonial Flag.

17 days ago

This photo provided by Dunkin' shows Ben Affleck in a still from the company's 2024 Super Bowl NFL ...

WYATTE GRANTHAM-PHILIPS AP Business Writer

Super Bowl ads keep it heavy on the celebrities, light on the politics

In typical Super Bowl fashion, an array of companies' adverts were adorned by stars — often with numerous celebrities.

18 days ago

NFL Super Bowl LVIII football logos are projected on the side of Caesars Palace Las Vegas Hotel and...

Chris Isidore, CNN

Why the NFL went all in on sports gambling

Despite the Super Bowl being in Vegas, the NFL is still trying to keep the appearance of some distance between the sport and gaming.

18 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Mother and cute toddler child in a little fancy wooden cottage, reading a book, drinking tea and en...

Visit Bear Lake

How to find the best winter lodging in Bear Lake, Utah

Winter lodging in Bear Lake can be more limited than in the summer, but with some careful planning you can easily book your next winter trip.

Happy family in winter clothing at the ski resort, winter time, watching at mountains in front of t...

Visit Bear Lake

Ski more for less: Affordable ski resorts near Bear Lake, Utah

Plan your perfect ski getaway in Bear Lake this winter, with pristine slopes, affordable tickets, and breathtaking scenery.

front of the Butch Cassidy museum with a man in a cowboy hat standing in the doorway...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

Looking Back: The History of Bear Lake

The history of Bear Lake is full of fascinating stories. At over 250,000 years old, the lake has seen generations of people visit its shores.

silhouette of a family looking over a lake with a bird in the top corner flying...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

8 Fun Activities To Do in Bear Lake Without Getting in the Water

Bear Lake offers plenty of activities for the whole family to enjoy without having to get in the water. Catch 8 of our favorite activities.

Wellsville Mountains in the spring with a pond in the foreground...

Wasatch Property Management

Advantages of Renting Over Owning a Home

Renting allows you to enjoy luxury amenities and low maintenance without the long-term commitment and responsibilities of owning a home.

Clouds over a red rock vista in Hurricane, Utah...

Wasatch Property Management

Why Southern Utah is a Retirement Paradise

Retirement in southern Utah offers plenty of cultural and recreational opportunities. Find out all that this region has to offer.

‘Keep praying for me’: Damar Hamlin, breathing on his own, posts on Instagram for the first time since collapse