Damar Hamlin, the Buffalo Bills safety whose heart stopped during a prime time game in January, has been cleared to return to football activities, Bills general manager Brandon Beane announced Tuesday.
Beane said on Friday three experts unanimously cleared Hamlin to resume practice and he was at a team facility for the start of the Bills’ off-season training schedule this week.
“My heart is still in the sport,” Hamlin said at a news conference on Tuesday. “I love sports. It’s something I want to prove to myself—no one else.
Hamlin, 25, received lifesaving care after passing of cardiac arrest on the field in the first quarter of the Bills’ game against the Bengals in Cincinnati on Jan. 2. Hamlin’s Chest. After being tackled, Hamlin got up and walked two steps before collapsing to the ground.
Medical professionals administered CPR to Hamlin and cared for him for 10 minutes as players on both teams were visibly distraught, some shedding tears on the sidelines and others huddled together and kneeling in prayer. Hamlin was revived on the field and then taken to a Cincinnati hospital, where he spent about a week in the intensive care unit. He was later taken to a hospital in Buffalo to recover.
In the days following the collapse, Hamlin received an outpouring of support, with more than 200,000 people donating more than $9 million to a toy drive that Hamlin had previously set up on a GoFundMe page. A representative for Hamlin has said that the money will go to Hamlin’s Charitable Foundation.
Hamlin’s agent Ira Turner said in a brief interview Tuesday that Hamlin does not need to sign a special waiver or complete any additional contract steps to return to play. The Bills placed Hamlin on the injured reserve list during rehabilitation. Turner said that Hamlin has continued to exercise and is in “great” shape.
“He’s ready, he’s excited,” Turner said. “I’m sure there’s nerves like anything but he’s ready to go.”
Since being released from the hospital in January, Hamlin has made several high-profile public appearances. He helped honor the Bills’ training and medical staff as well as hospital staff during a pregame ceremony at the Super Bowl in February. A few days before the championship game, Hamlin gave an emotional speech after accepting the Community Award during the NFL Honors ceremony.
He said, “I have a long road ahead, a journey full of the unknown and milestones, but facing your fears becomes much easier when you know your purpose.”
In March, Hamlin met with President Biden in the Oval Office and spoke before Congress in support of a bill that, if passed, would fund access to automated external defibrillators, or AEDs, in schools.