ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) — Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin made his first public appearance since suffering a cardiac arrest following a game against the Cincinnati Bengals three weeks ago, waving to fans from the stadium on Sunday as the two teams met again for a divisional game. AFC in the playoffs.
The crowd at Highmark Stadium erupted as images of a recovering Hamlin filled the giant screens in the end zones near the end of the game’s first half. The fans turned to the glass-enclosed suite and called.
Hamlin, wearing a hooded jacket, stood in front of the windows and raised his hands as if cheering for the crowd and encouraging it to its feet when the Bengals faced second-and-goal at their 5. He finished by making a heart sign with his hands, his signature gesture.
The Bills released videos for both earlier on Sunday Instagram and Twitter shows Hamlin arriving in the team’s locker room and the message “Welcome home Damar.” The video showed Hamlin arriving in a golf cart about an hour before tee time, wearing sunglasses and a covered face, with the hood of his jacket up. His 7-year-old brother Damir and mother Nina came with him.
He was not on the field before the start of the game in snowy conditions. The accounts did not inform fans in attendance of his whereabouts, but word of his attendance had spread by the time he appeared on screens.
“It was amazing, it really was. “I think everybody was excited,” Buffalo’s Bryn Jobson said at halftime. “We heard he might be here, so it was nice to see him.”
Hamlin, 24, hasn’t appeared in public since the Bills and Bengals last met on Jan. 2 in a game that came to a screeching halt and was eventually overturned after Hamlin collapsed on the field in the first quarters.
Bills coach Sean McDermott said Hamlin began making regular visits to team facilities shortly after his release from the hospital, which he described as “putting his toe down here and just starting to come back to himself.”
His presence was enough to cheer his teammates, who after Hamlin’s collapse surrounded him as medical crews used CPR and an automated external defibrillator (AED) to restart his heart.
For several minutes, the television audience watching Monday night’s game instead absorbed the fear and sadness on the faces of the players, some of whom had tears in their eyes.
A spokesman for the Hamlin family said this week that he faces a long rehabilitation.
“Damar still requires oxygen and his heart is being monitored regularly to make sure there are no failures or sequelae,” Jordan Rooney told the Associated Press.
The Bills have not released the results of the tests Hamlin underwent to determine why his heart stopped after he was hit in the chest while making what appeared to be a routine tackle.
Hamlin, who hails from the Pittsburgh area, live-tweeted Buffalo’s 35-23 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 the wild-card playoffs.
Bills’ Hamlin attends first game since collapse, waves to fans
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