Damar Hamlin’s journey since the Buffalo Bills and Cincinnati Bengals kicked off Monday Night Football on January 2nd has had more twists than your favorite ice cream stand. As you know, he suffered cardiac arrest during the first quarter of that primetime matchup. I was afraid we had watched a man pass on national TV. He was revived on the field, given life-saving CPR for nearly 20 minutes, and taken to the University of Cincinnati Medical Center where he was in critical condition. A week later, Hamlin returned to Buffalo where he stayed at Buffalo General Medical Center/Gates Vascular Institute before being released on January 11th.
That is his time in the hospital, but just the start of this incredible story. Damar’s Chasing M’s foundation would raise over $10 million to help less fortunate children. A cause he became involved with as a high schooler in Pittsburgh. Hamlin was cleared to play again on April 18th and returned as a full participant at practice on June 6th.
Hamlin has spent these last six months continuing to raise funds for AEDs and CPR awareness. He’s hosted charity events and done numerous speaking engagements. Earlier this week, Hamlin was allowed to thank those who saved him at ESPN’s ESPY Awards. Hamlin presented the Bills’ training staff with the Pat Tillman Award for Service. The gesture is a small token for saving his life in front of a live audience of millions.
I wrote the previous 200+ words to remind those who ran to Twitter (and other social media platforms) to proclaim they’ve had enough with Hamlin’s “15 minutes of fame” and demand that we recognize he isn’t even that good at football about what that man endured. I’m writing the next 200+ words to lay out how this is simply sour grapes from trolls and mostly fans of rival teams.
Damar Hamlin finished third on the Bills in tackles last season with 91. Taking that a step further, he had the most tackles in the secondary by 28. Hamlin, a safety, was tied on the Bills for ninth in sacks and tied for second in forced fumbles. His six tackles for a loss were the most of any player for Buffalo outside of the front seven.
But Greg, those are just counting stats…
Pro Football Focus graded Hamlin inside the top 50 safeties (64 safeties are considered starters) in their overall grade and coverage grade. He was seventh in their pass rush grade with a 74.6. SIS Data Hub has him 10th among qualified safeties (played 10+ games) with a sack rate of 7.1%, tied with Tyrann Mathieu. His hit percentage when rushing the passer was 19%, dropping him all the way down to 14th, ahead of Javon Holland, Justin Reid, and other big names. The dude did all this while stepping into a void left by injuries from a pair of All-Pros. Not the easiest shoes to fill!
You can be upset that a man who died in front of our eyes is still in the spotlight and using that shine to brighten the days of countless others. You can simply hate the Bills. However, you can not tell me Hamlin wasn’t a valuable member of the Bills during the 2022 season.
Lastly, if all of this wasn’t enough, Hamlin’s impact will outlast his time on the field. A child’s life was already saved due to Hamlin and the NFL’s determination to educate its employees in hopes the outcome of what we say on Monday Night Football isn’t dramatically different.
Damar Hamlin’s near-death experience is going to save countless lives. pic.twitter.com/dczznzEXLj— Greg Vorse (@GregVorse) June 9, 2023