Teams across the NFL canceled media availability on Tuesday after Monday’s Bills-Bengals game was postponed. Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin, however, took the podium and lauded the man at the center of a frightening scene in Cincinnati.
Bills safety Damar Hamlin collapsed in the first quarter of Monday’s matchup against the Bengals. He was administered CPR on the field and was transported to a nearby hospital, where it was later announced he had suffered a cardiac arrest and was in critical condition.
Hamlin grew up in McKees Rocks, Pa., right next to Pittsburgh. He went on to play college football for the University of Pittsburgh and played home games at the Steelers’ stadium.
“It’s a really personal thing for me, being a Pittsburgher and that young man being a Pittsburgher,” Tomlin said of Hamlin on Tuesday. “I’ve known that guy probably since he was about 12. Just got a lot of respect and love for him as a human being.”
Hamlin went on to get selected by the Bills in the sixth round of the 2021 NFL Draft. He has already faced the Steelers twice in his NFL career, and Tomlin said the two of them have gotten to “have a moment” at both matchups.
Along with representing Pittsburgh on the football field, Hamlin has embraced and helped his hometown community off the field. His Chasing M’s Foundation Community Toy Drive launched in 2020, and football fans across the country have donated to the cause over the last day. Over 157,000 contributors have combined to raise over $4.2 million as of early Tuesday afternoon.
“It’s just cool to not only to appreciate these guys in terms of where they are now, but to know them since they were younger people and to watch their maturation, their development,” Tomlin said. “To watch them earn what they’ve been chasing is just really a cool thing.
“He’s an example of that. I’ve got a lot of love for that young man.”