Bengals' Eli Apple denies mocking Bills' Damar Hamlin in tweet originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago
Apple, who has been trolling the Buffalo Bills since they were eliminated by the Bengals in the divisional round on Sunday, quote tweeted Bills receiver Stefon Diggs by writing "Cancun on 3" followed by the hand heart emoji.
That symbol, two hands forming the shape of a heart, has become something of a trademark for Hamlin during his recovery from suffering cardiac arrest on the field during the Bills' Week 17 game against the Bengals.
The phrase "Cancun on three" has been used to mock teams that have been eliminated from the playoffs and are set to embark on offseason vacations. But many viewed the addition of the numeral three, Hamlin's jersey number, and the emoji as being insensitive since Hamlin regularly posts both on social media.
Bills defensive end Shaq Lawson went back at Apple with a tweet on Tuesday, saying disrespecting Hamlin will "get you beat up frfr. Keep it on the field."
Shortly after, Apple denied that he was mocking Hamlin, tweeting that he would never "make light" of the situation.
"All love thoughts prayers and concerns to @HamlinIsland as he continues to recover from that tragic incident. Never would I make light of that scary unfortunate scene. This game is truly a dangerous risk to our bodies mind and spirit. Nothing but love to all my football brothers," read Apple's tweet.
Hamlin attended the Bills-Bengals game on Sunday, flashing the heart symbol to the crowd from the press box when he was shown on the videoboard late in the second quarter.
Hamlin regularly uses the emoji on social media and recently began selling a shirt featuring the image of two hands making the heart symbol, with proceeds of the sale going to first-responders and the University of Cincinnati Trauma Center that treated Hamlin while he was in critical condition.
Hamlin has not publicly commented on Apple's tweets. Hamlin posted a tweet shortly after Apple's on Tuesday, showing thanks for the "GENUINE" support.
"Thankful for all the GENUINE love, thoughts & prayers from all across the world.. y’all will hear from me soon!" Hamlin's tweet read, finishing with his No. 3 and the hand heart emoji.