Bengals WR Tee Higgins opens up for first time since Damar Hamlin play; Josh Allen comes to his defense

Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Tee Higgins spoke to reporters after practice on Thursday as the team prepares to face the Baltimore Ravens.

He shared that Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin’s mother contacted him Thursday morning to give updates about her son’s condition after he collided with Higgins and collapsed on the field during "Monday Night Football."

“He’s doing good, so I’m in a good place right now,” Higgins said. “It feels good, knowing that he’s OK, he’s doing better. It makes me feel better inside too.”

Higgins was seen receiving comfort from his own mother on Monday night and later shared well wishes for Hamlin.

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The public also eventually received updates on Hamlin’s condition when his doctors at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center announced that they have seen "substantial improvement in his condition over the past 24 hours." They added that his "neurological condition and function is intact" and he's "beginning to awaken." He's opened his eyes and has been moving his hands and feet.

Bills QB Josh Allen comes to Higgins' defense

Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen and head coach Sean McDermott spoke at a post-practice news conference on Thursday, and Allen chose to close his remarks with an unprompted defense of Higgins.

The quarterback thanked reporters and began to rise but suddenly spoke into the mic again.

"I do want to say one more thing. I haven't reached out to Tee but I hope that he got some relief today," he said. "I saw some stuff on Twitter and people should not be attacking him whatsoever. I'm glad that Damar's family came out and said that.

"That's a football play and I hope he doesn't hold that upon himself, there's nothing else he could have done in that situation," Allen added.

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Allen was referring to Hamlin’s close family friend and marketing rep, Jordon Rooney, who spoke to Spectrum News 1 on Wednesday and relayed a message from them.

“They’re mad, they’re frustrated. This isn’t supporting Damar. If you think you’re supporting Damar by bashing Tee, you’re not supporting Damar,” Rooney said.

"It was a freak football accident that could have happened with anyone at anytime," he added. "The family feels bad that Tee would have any guilt in this situation.”

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Higgins mentioned that Hamlin’s mother maintained that same support privately. She was just “telling me that she’s thinking of me, praying for me, and things like that,” he said.

'I'm a professional football player at the end of the day'

Higgins explained that he didn’t initially understand what was happening on Monday night.

“At first, me being a football player, I’m thinking he just flopped. One of our guys bumped him, I just saw him fall,” he said. “But I looked again and I saw what happened, so I just turned my head and tried not to think about it. I knew it was something crazy, something tragic.”

Hamlin’s collapse and resuscitation was an unprecedented occurrence, one that Higgins is glad he was granted some time to process with the game’s postponement.

“It was hard, I obviously wasn’t in a good place to play for the rest of that game. I’m kinda glad that we chose not to play,” he said.

Now, the wideout is focusing his attention to the next challenge.

“Obviously it’s been hard but I’m a professional football player at the end of the day, so I have to shift my focus to the Ravens and be prepared to win this game,” Higgins said.

Sep 29, 2022; Cincinnati, Ohio, USA; Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Tee Higgins (85) walks to the locker room after the second quarter against the Miami Dolphins at Paycor Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Sam Greene/Cincinnati Enquirer via USA TODAY NETWORK
Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Tee Higgins is in a good place. (Sam Greene/Cincinnati Enquirer via USA TODAY NETWORK)