Seven months after Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin collapsed on the field during Monday Night Football, he returned to game action for the first time Saturday in the Bills’ preseason game.

Hamlin played two defensive series, finishing the game with three tackles, including one pivotal fourth-and-1 stop where he stopped a run attempt for no gain. “It was fun, it was super fun, it was a great experience, just another milestone and a step up to just getting back to myself as far as the football space,” Hamlin said in a postgame interview. “Just chopping this tree down as much as I can, one step [at a time].”

Bills coach Sean McDermott added, “What we just witnessed to me is remarkable. It really is. It’s a true sign of a young man’s courage and, obviously, everyone that helped him get to this point. I know there’s a football game going on out there today, but I mean, truly remarkable display of courage and strength and faith.”

On January 2, Hamlin fell to the ground seconds after colliding with a wide receiver during the opening quarter of the game at Cincinnati’s Paycor Stadium. Medical staff and local paramedics administered CPR to restore Hamlin’s heartbeat before he was transported to the hospital. The Bills announced soon after that Hamlin was in critical condition after suffering cardiac arrest. 

Days later, Hamlin reawakened in the hospital, with the team stating that he “demonstrated that he appears to be neurologically intact. His lungs continue to heal and he is making steady progress.” A week after the collision, Hamlin was discharged from the hospital and returned to Buffalo, where he was honored during the Bills’ game that weekend.


Following his ordeal, Hamlin admitted that he was still weighing whether to return to his NFL career, as he was dealing with “trauma.” However, in April, he was “fully cleared” by the Bills to resume football activities, culminating in his return to training camp and taking part in the Bills’ preseason game Saturday against the Indianapolis Colts.

“I made the choice that I wanted to play, it wasn’t nobody else’s choice but mine,” Hamlin added postgame. “So making that choice, I know what comes with it. So, you see my cleats laced up and my helmet and shoulder pads on, there ain’t gonna be no hesitation because you can’t play this game like that. You’ll put yourself at more risk by hesitating. I’m out there and I’m just not thinking twice, I’m just playing my game.”