Less than a year after suffering cardiac arrest during a “Monday Night Football” game, Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin is back on the field. In Week 1 of the preseason, Hamlin started on kickoff coverage and made an impact on defense. In the 23-19 victory over the Indianapolis Colts, he recorded three solo tackles.
Hamlin said after the game that being back on the field was “super fun,” and that he was feeling “everything all at once.” He spoke with reporters at length about his return to the field, and said he was feeling no reservations.
“When you step in between them lines, you’re putting yourself at risk by hesitating and by reserving yourself,” said Hamlin. “I made the choice that I wanted to play. It wasn’t nobody else’s choice but mine. So making that choice, I know what comes with it.
“When you see my cleats laced up and my helmet and shoulder pads on, there ain’t gonna be no hesitation. Because you can’t play this game like that. You’ll put yourself at more risk by hesitating. When I’m out there, I’m just not thinking twice, I’m just playing my game and playing how I was taught to play since I was my little brother’s age.”
Hamlin, who was cleared by doctors in April, said beforehand he was trying not to focus too much on what was to come, and instead wanted to stay in the present.
“Trying to look forward, it just creates a lot of anxiety, a lot of unnecessary feelings,” he said. “If you stay in the moment, it allows you to process it when you’re there.”
When asked what he thinks it will feel like to make the highly anticipated return to the field, Hamlin said, “It’s too soon, man.”
McDermott, meanwhile, said he was being mindful of how Hamlin is adjusting to getting back to team activities.
“This is to some extent uncharted territory for me as well, and all of us. So we’re just trying to do the best we can to be there for him,” McDermott said. “I try to keep a close eye on where he is and where he’s showing up and how he’s responding. And he’s done a great job.”
Buffalo had a stadium practice last week, and the environment made Hamlin reflect on the last time he was at a Bills home game, the AFC divisional game, saying, “It was an emotional day. I felt the love then.”
, which was five months since his heart stopped as a result of commotio cordis. Since then, Hamlin’s comeback has been impressive, and he has improved greatly from doing light drills to intercepting a pass from quarterback Matt Barkley in practice.
Hamlin has been adamant that the scary scene during that Monday night game against the Cincinnati Bengals would not be the end of his story. The next chapter has begun with his return to the field on Saturday.