When Buffalo Bills’ general manager Brandon Beane was asked about the potential of Damar Hamlin returning to the field at the NFL Combine in February, he wasn’t able to say for certain that Hamlin would have his fairytale ending.
“If he’s able to get full clearance and he feels he’s ready to do it, that’s another big smile of a story,” Beane said. “Not that he just got his life back, but he would have his football career back and have an opportunity to go out there and play.”
Well, for the first time since that night at Paycor Stadium on Jan. 2, Hamlin padded up and played in a professional football game — even if it was just preseason.
— Buffalo Bills (@BuffaloBills) August 12, 2023
Hamlin took to the field at Highmark Stadium Saturday afternoon for the Bills’ first preseason game against the Indianapolis Colts. And in his return to action, he made an impact.
He racked up three tackles in the first quarter, including a fourth down run stuff to force a turnover on downs. Hamlin is back.
He was cleared by Bills’ doctors to resume football activities in April, and he returned to the field in full pads for the Bills OTAs in June. It’s a remarkable feat to be able to return to the field after his cardiac arrest in January.
Hamlin’s recovery has also coincided with a national tour earlier this year, including a meeting with President Joe Biden during which he said he would return to playing football.
“My third night awake in the hospital, I met an ICU doctor,” Hamlin said at the NFL Honors show in February. “He told me he had a similar experience. He showed me he was okay, and that he was okay, and that meant so much to me. There was so much uncertainty at the time ad just him coming to me, showing me that I could live a normal life again, it meant so much to me in the moment.
“So, I want to give a big thank you to him and a special thank you to everyone on this stage for everything they did for me. And thank you to everyone around the country and around the world who prayed for me and hoped for me. The journey will continue.”
Hamlin recorded 91 tackles (63 solo), six tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks, two pass breakups and a forced fumble in 15 games last — starting every game in the Bills’ secondary from Week 3 onward. And he served a key role in the Buffalo secondary.
In five seasons at Pitt, he recorded 275 tackles (185 solo), 10 tackles for loss, six interceptions, 21 pass breakups and a fumble recovery.
The Bills’ first regular season game this season is set for Sept. 11 against the Jets, and after Hamlin’s return in the preseason, it’s a good bet that he will see some action.