On Jan. 2, 2023, Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin suffered a cardiac arrest after making a tackle during an MNF game against the Cincinnati Bengals. He was resuscitated twice before being rushed to a local hospital in critical condition.
Damar eventually made a full recovery and returned to professional football. However, he's been inactive for most of the 2023 NFL regular season. So, what's going on? When will Damar Hamlin play again?
When will Damar Hamlin play again?
A little over seven months after he collapsed and nearly died, Damar played his first NFL snap on Aug. 12, 2023, in the Bills preseason opener against the Las Vegas Raiders. Despite playing in all three preseason games, he was a healthy scratch for the first three games of the regular season.
Damar made his highly anticipated return to the NFL in Week 4 against the Miami Dolphins, serving as a backup after safety Jordan Poyer was ruled out due to a knee injury. He played 18 special teams snaps and helped the Bills secure a 48-20 win over the Dolphins.
He hasn't played again, and according to ESPN's Adam Schefter, he likely won't for quite some time. On Nov. 5, 2023, the NFL insider reported that it's "currently a numbers game" with Damar Hamlin because he now backs up the Bills' top four safeties: Jordan Pyer, Micah Hyde, Taylor Rapp, and Cam Lewis.
Damar said he's grateful to still be able to play professional football.
During the Bills-Dolphins game on Oct. 1, 2023, Damar was the last player out of the tunnel. He ran to the other end of the field, jumped into the end zone, and celebrated with the many Bills fans in attendance. Of that special moment, he told ESPN it was "everything to me."
"I think it was more so about promising to myself than anything else," the Bills safety explained, "just showing myself that I have the courage, I got the strength, that I got the pride, everything ... in me to be able to go through something so traumatic and to be able to come back from it."
He added, "To be able to still do what I love at the highest level in the world is amazing."
The moment was significant for more than Damar, with Micah Hyde stating that he was "extremely proud of" him. Bills defensive back and special teams player Siran Neal noted that it "felt like [Damar] never left."
"When [Hamlin] got called up this week, he was excited, and then I was excited too," Siran continued. "And it's a huge blessing to see him back on the field doing what he loves to do ... just him running out, running down on that field — is a huge blessing."
Bills head coach Sean McDermott also addressed Damar's return to the NFL, revealing that it was "a surreal moment" to watch. Sean added, "The cameras were all flocking around him. I made sure I stayed over here, but he deserves the attention he gets. I love the fact that he makes it about the team in so many ways."