ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (WIVB) — Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin is attending his first game, less than three weeks removed from his on-field cardiac arrest, and reportedly spoke to his team in the locker room before kickoff on Sunday.
Video from WROC’s AJ Feldman showed a person donning a jacket from what appeared to be Hamlin’s Chasing M’s Foundation being driven by security to the Bills locker room and hurried inside. The team later confirmed that it was Hamlin, posting a video to both Instagram and Twitter showing Hamlin arriving at the team’s locker room and the message “Welcome home, Damar.”
Hamlin was accompanied by his 7-year-old brother, Damir, and mother, Nina.
Reporting from ESPN’s Dianna Russini said that Hamlin wasn’t planning to be out on the field during the game. He could be seen during the live television coverage in one of the upper-level boxes at Highmark Stadium.
Hamlin, 24, has not been seen in public since the Bills and Bengals last met on Jan. 2 in a game that came to an abrupt halt and was eventually canceled after Hamlin’s collapse on the field in the first quarter.
Bills coach Sean McDermott said Hamlin began making regular visits to the team’s facility soon after his release from the hospital in what he described as “dipping his toe back in here and getting on the road to just getting back to himself.”
His presence was enough to uplift his teammates, who after Hamlin’s collapse surrounded him as medical teams used CPR and an automatic external defibrillator (AED) to restart his heart.
For several minutes, the television audience who tuned in for that Monday night game instead absorbed the fear and sadness on players’ faces, some streaked with tears.
A family spokesman for Hamlin said this week that he still faces a lengthy rehabilitation.
“Damar still requires oxygen and is having his heart monitored regularly to ensure there are no setbacks or aftereffects,” Jordon Rooney told The Associated Press.
The Bills have not disclosed the results of tests Hamlin has undergone to determine why his heart stopped after he was struck in the chest while making what appeared to be a routine tackle.
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Sunday’s Divisional Round matchup will be a rematch of the game that was canceled due to Hamlin’s cardiac arrest in Week 17.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.