When Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin collapsed on the field Monday night and needed CPR before an ambulance could rush him to the University of Cincinnati Medical Center, it shocked every player, coach, and fan at Paycor Stadium and all those watching on TV.
Hamlin, a 24-year-old in his second NFL season out of the University of Pittsburgh, suffered cardiac arrest during the game against the Cincinnati Bengals and remains sedated and in critical condition in the ICU.
Giants head coach Brian Daboll, who was Buffalo's offensive coordinator last year in Hamlin's rookie season, spoke to reporters Wednesday about how he and the team are processing the tragic incident. Multiple players also discussed what was going through their minds after seeing the events unfold, including former Bills teammates Isaiah Hodgins, Davis Webb, and Nick McCloud.
"It's definitely tough, man," Hodgins said. "Again, just knowing him on a personal level. You know I'm just trying to keep in contact with as many people in that organization and trying to get updates and see and trying to stay posted. It definitely is tough. And I can't imagine what his family and close relatives are really going through right now."
Webb, who was with the Bills last year during Hamlin's rookie season, gave his thoughts on the second-year player's character from being around him in Buffalo and playing with the scout team defense during practices. Webb said he was watching the Monday night game with his girlfriend and her family, and "immediately went to the bedroom when I saw it," adding he continued to watch ESPN for the rest of the night.
"Great player, really," Webb said. "But first and foremost, great person, great leader. Goes about his business, leads by example... Every single day he showed up to work. Showed up early, you could always see him in the training room getting extra treatment, watching film, talking to veteran DBs. You could tell that there was something there.
"Then when he got his chance, he's taken off. He's a strong, strong individual though. So if I know anyone can get through what he's been dealt, it's him."
McCloud, 24, who was with the Bills through summer camps and then later on the practice squad in 2021, added that this was the "toughest" practice he's been through in the NFL and could not stop thinking about Hamlin. McCloud said that the two players bonded as being the older brothers in their families and someone for their siblings to look up to.
Running back Saquon Barkley spoke on his relationship with Hamlin from college recruiting, as the safety visited Penn State while Barkley was there and is close with PSU's Miles Sanders (Philadelphia Eagles) and Marcus Allen (Pittsburgh Steelers).
"You never want to see anybody get hurt," Barkley said. "I know Damar a little bit from recruiting, obviously him going to Pittsburgh, but being a recruit and coming to Penn State. Knowing Miles and I know him and Miles and Marcus Allen are really close. Anytime you see a guy go down, especially when you have no idea what's really going on, definitely hurts, definitely sucks. Just praying for him and his family and all those guys over in Buffalo."
Barkley was asked if the devastating incident makes him question playing in Week 18 and if the league should consider postponing the games.
"Its hard for me to really answer that, because I really only can answer for myself, how I feel," Barkley said. "Me personally, that's a conversation that I would have to have with my family. Going back to what he said, you never think about something like that. Really didn't even have any physical contact, obviously went out there and practiced, didn't have anything to do with contact. So none of that even crossed my mind until you guys actually brought it to my attention.
"That's something I'll probably have a better answer later on in the week with having sit down and really reflect on that. It's sad to say, but it's the God honest truth, the only thing I've really done in this moment about the situation that happened was more like thinking about Damar and his family and those guys. I really haven't even sat down myself and thinking, 'Wow, I'm actually going to take the field too.' Seeing that on live television and social media. That's a really good question, but I'll have to sit down and reflect on that."
Veteran defensive back Adoree' Jackson said the first thing he wanted to do after seeing Hamlin collapse was to pray. Jackson was also asked how he feels about playing this coming Sunday, noting he would not have wanted to continue playing if something like happened in a game, but is more comfortable now. He added that the team meetings on Wednesday were comforting for him and other players, allowing them to be more educated on what happened.
"For me, like I'm saying not going through it or experiencing it, but definitely feeling it, I feel like now I would probably go out there and still play," Jackson said. "But at that moment, even though I wasn't even playing the game, seeing it happen I knew for sure I wouldn't go back and play regardless. Whether you got five minutes, 10 minutes, 30, 40, hour to warm up, nah I wouldn't be back out there playing.
"As of now, I would go back out there and play. But in that moment, being out there, sitting at the crib, I didn't even want to watch more football, to let alone play."