Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin made his first public appearance since going into cardiac arrest after a tackle against the Cincinnati Bengals three weeks ago, waving to fans from a stadium row Sunday when the two teams met again for the Bills’ AFC divisional playoff game. went on to lose 27-10.
The crowd at Highmark Stadium erupted as an image of the recovering Hamlin filled the giant screens in the end zones near the end of the first half. Fans turned towards the glass-enclosed series and cheered.
Hamlin, wearing a hooded jacket, stood in front of the windows and raised his arms as if greeting the crowd and encouraging them to get to their feet as the Bengals faced second and goal. at 5. He finished by forming a heart. signal with his hands, his signal signal.
Earlier Sunday, the Bills posted a video on Instagram and Twitter showing Hamlin arriving at the team’s locker room with the message “Welcome home, Damar.” The video showed Hamlin arriving in a golf cart about an hour before the start, wearing sunglasses and a face covering, the hood of his jacket pulled up. He was accompanied by his seven-year-old brother, Damir, and his mother, Nina.
Bills quarterback Josh Allen described his presence as “a warm feeling.”
“Obviously we wanted to play for him … We just ran into a team that played better than us tonight,” Allen said after the loss.
Hamlin did not see before the start of the game as it was snowing. No announcement was made in the Bills about his whereabouts, but the story of his attendance had spread by the time he appeared on the screens.
“It was great, it really was. I think everyone got so excited,” said fan Brin Jobson of Buffalo at halftime. “We heard he might be here, so it was cool to see him.”
Hamlin, 24, has not been seen in public since the Bills and Bengals last met on Jan. 2 in a game that came to an abrupt halt and was eventually canceled after Hamlin collapsed on the field in the first quarter.
Bills coach Sean McDermott said Hamlin began making regular visits to the team’s facility soon after being released from the hospital in what he described as “dipping his toe back here and getting on the road to getting back to himself.”
It was just an “amazing moment” when Hamlin appeared on the screen during the game, McDermott said afterward, especially considering that medical personnel used CPR and an automatic external defibrillator to restart his heart.
For several minutes, the television audience listening to the game that Monday night took in the fear and sadness on the faces of the players, some of them bursting into tears.
A family spokesman for Hamlin said this week that he still faces a long recovery. “Damar still needs oxygen and his heart is regularly monitored to make sure there are no complications or after-effects,” Jordon Rooney told the Associated Press.
The Bills have not released the results of tests Hamlin underwent to determine why his heart stopped after being hit in the chest while apparently performing a routine.
Hamlin, a native of the Pittsburgh area, live-tweeted while watching Buffalo’s 35-23 season-ending win over New England from his hospital bed at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center on Jan. 8. Last weekend, he live-tweeted from home while watching the Bills’ 34-31 win over Miami in a wild-card playoff.