The Bills honored Damar Hamlin before their game against the Patriots by running out of their tunnel with flags that had Hamlin’s No. 3 and held a dedicated moment for fans to cheer for Hamlin before the National Anthem.
— NFL (@NFL) January 8, 2023
Hamlin tweeted he was watching the game from the University of Cincinnati Medical Center just six days since suffering cardiac arrest on the field against the Bengals. The Bills started the game with an emotional kickoff return for a touchdown from Nyheim Hines, which caused Hamlin to Tweet “OMFG!!!!!!!!!!!!!” in response.
It was the Bills’ first kickoff return for a touchdown in the last three years and three months, the team announced. Hines would repeat the feat again in the second half.
— Buffalo Bills (@BuffaloBills) January 8, 2023
The Bills also honored all of their medical personnel, some of whom helped save Hamlin’s life on the field last Monday.
Before that, players across the league, including Joe Burrow, Mac Jones and Taysom Hill, showed their support for Hamlin by wearing shirts that read “Love for Damar” with the number three in the middle during pregame warmups. Many NFL teams outlined the “3″ in each 30-yard line number on their fields in Bills blue or red. The Bills are also wearing a patch with Hamlin’s number three on the front of their jerseys.
Quarterback Josh Allen led an emotional pregame huddle before the team took the field on Sunday as well.
“They always say ‘don’t play for the name on the back, play for the name on the front,’ and it’s pretty special to play for that number on the front,” Allen told his teammates.
Hamlin made his first public comments on Saturday since suffering the injury.
“When you put real love out into the world it comes back to you 3x’s as much,” Hamlin wrote. “The Love has been overwhelming, but I’m thankful for every single person that prayed for me and reached out. We brung the world back together behind this. If you know me you know this only gone make me stronger. On a long road keep praying for me!”
Hamlin’s comments and ability to watch Sunday’s game was a culmination of a week filled with positive medical updates. Hamlin started to wake on Wednesday night, and on Thursday doctors reported Hamlin was neurologically intact and capable of communicating with his friends and family.
Then on Friday, Hamlin’s breathing tube was removed, allowing him to talk with his Bills teammates over FaceTime for the first time since his injury. Hamlin remains in critical condition, and his doctors have emphasized he has a long way to go before he can make a full recovery.
The Bills’ win against the Patriots allowed them to clinch the AFC’s No. 2 seed.