Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin is showing “signs of improvement” and loved ones are “elated” about the player’s progress, even while he’s still hospitalized in critical condition, his team and family said Wednesday.
The Bills’ update came two days after Hamlin collapsed on the field in Cincinnati, followed by first responders performing CPR and rushing him to nearby University of Cincinnati Medical Center.
“Damar remains in the ICU in critical condition with signs of improvement noted yesterday and overnight,” the Bills said in a statement Wednesday afternoon. “He is expected to remain under intensive care as his health care team continues to monitor and treat him.”
Family friend and spokesman Jordon Rooney said Hamlin’s health is moving in “a positive direction.”
“They are elated right now,” Rooney told The Associated Press. “Damar is still their first concern. But for them, they always look at how they can turn a somewhat troubling situation into a good one. The bounce back from this, for him and his family is going to be incredible.”
Cincinnati was leading 7-3 when Hamlin tackled Bengals wide receiver Tee Higgins after a 13-yard gain. The defender stood up from what seemed like a routine play before going limp and falling backward to the ground at Paycor Stadium.
The game was postponed, and league officials said Wednesday they’ve only just started internal talks of how to reschedule or scratch that contest.
Week 18 games — set to be the final of the regular season — will go on as scheduled, the NFL said.
All scenarios are on the table and Troy Vincent, the NFL’s executive vice president of football operations, warned teams and fans that the final decision could be unpopular with some clubs.
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As it stands, the 12-3 Bills are a half-game behind the 13-3 Kansas City Chiefs for the AFC’s No. 1 seed. The Bills own a tiebreaker over the Chiefs by virtue of Buffalo’s win at Kansas City in October.
“There may be a lack of equity, where it may not be perfect,” Vincent said. “But it’ll allow those that are participating who have earned that right to play to continue to play.”
During a 38-minute meeting with reporters, NFL officials were asked repeatedly if the Bills were emotionally prepared to play their next scheduled game Sunday against the New England Patriots.
Each time, league officials declined to guarantee that contest would go on as scheduled.
“It’s really important that we just keep the pulse of the coach and the players and don’t get in front of that,” Vincent said.
“We’ll allow (Buffalo coach) Sean (McDermott) and his team and his staff and the players, which are the most important thing, here to guide us.”