Damar Hamlin honored before Bills-Patriots game in Buffalo originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia
The 24-year-old safety was honored with a number of touching tributes before Sunday’s Bills-Patriots game in Orchard Park, N.Y.
Players, coaches and fans all paid tribute to Hamlin, whose condition has vastly improved throughout the week. He had his breathing tube removed overnight Thursday before speaking with teammates and coaches Friday morning via FaceTime.
The Bills had to quickly turn their attention to the regular season finale against the Patriots, but that didn’t stop them from paying respect pregame. Hamlin kicked things off Sunday morning with a message to his team on Twitter:
In Buffalo, it all started with players arriving at the stadium. Josh Allen wore a “3” hat and sweater while walking in. Several other players followed suit, and Hamlin thanked his quarterback for the support.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell was on site, too, rocking a blue “3” hat.
In the locker room, the Bills hung Hamlin’s jersey and players received their custom hats and shirts for their teammate.
Both teams took the field in “Love for Damar” shirts during warm-ups.
On the field, the “3” for the 30-yard line was outlined in the Bills’ blue team color and players had a "3" patch on their jerseys.
Just before kickoff, there was a tribute with flags, loud cheers, a nod to the Bills' first responders and a moment of silence.
Fans did their part prior to the game, too. NBC Sports Boston’s Phil Perry reported that tailgaters everywhere had Hamlin jerseys and massive get-well cards. One fan was even spotted in a Tee Higgins jersey, showing support for the Bengals receiver who collided with Hamlin before the collapse, according to Yahoo Sports’ Jori Epstein.