The Road to Recovery: NFL Community Unites in Support of Damar Hamlin

Paulina Handal, Staff Writer

On Jan. 2, Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin suffered cardiac arrest and collapsed during the game against the Cincinnati Bengals. The event shocked everyone — teammates, coaches, fans and casual football observers. Hamlin was rushed to a hospital causing the game to get canceled. Teammates and coaches were filled with emotion, leaving a large impact on the football community. 

The National Football League (NFL)  has been known to have rivalries within the sport. Whether it is between the teams or the fans, rivalries have always been potent and a big part of the American football experience, but a new sense of unity has come upon the NFL. Fans have come together to support Hamlin, and the NFL has seen a sense of sympathy and harmony that brings a positive from a negative. 

“The captains of both teams met outside the locker room, obviously Bill’s players wanting to go to the hospital. That is when you realize, even if you are bitter rivals on the field, the game of life is more. It is more important at the end of the day [that] there is camaraderie and brotherhood amongst all these players,” Digital Media Business Development Director of the NFL Michael Wolfenson said. 

The teams were not the only ones who united together to support Hamlin. Fans of all teams joined in unison to support him and help him reach certain goals. Since Jan. 2, Hamlin’s Foundation to help children with education and sports has received almost $8.6 million. The foundation supports toy drives, back-to-school drives, kids camps and more, and for him, it brings joy to see that he can make an impact and help kids. Various companies, organizations, individuals and even several fantasy leagues — that put all their betting money together to donate to Hamlin’s Foundation — are making a difference in the unity of the NFL community.

“I mean, the outpouring of support for Damar Hamlin’s charity has just been overwhelming. And something that is really interesting is that a lot of fantasy football leagues depended on this game with Josh Allen, Stefon Diggs, Joe Burrow and just a bunch of top players. So this was like the championship week and at first, stats were counting, but then stats ended up not counting for the beginning. This decided a lot of title needs and I have been reading stories about people just saying hey, let us just donate either all the winnings to charity or let us just say both of us got the second place prize pool and the first place prize pool goes to the Damar Hamlin’s charity. So there have been a ton of creative solutions where normally in fantasy football, there is like a ton of controversy, and like every point matters but here again, it was just bigger,” Wolfenson said. 

The NFL as a whole, the fans, the players and everyone surrounding them, have united in prayer and hope for Hamlin to be back on his feet. Hamlin was discharged from a hospital in Buffalo, New York on Jan. 11 and is on his road to recovery with the whole community on his side.