American Football: Damar Hamlin Plays First Game Since Suffering Cardiac Arrest

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Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin has returned to action in his first regular-season game since suffering a cardiac arrest in early January. The Bills safety took to the field as part of Buffalo’s kick-off return unit to open their game against the Miami Dolphins on Sunday. It marked a key milestone for Hamlin in appearing in his first regular-season game some nine months since going into cardiac arrest and needing to be resuscitated on the field during a game at Cincinnati.

Hamlin got the nod to play after starting safety Jordan Poyer was sidelined by a knee injury. The 25-year-old was the last Bills player to exit the tunnel before kick-off. He ran the length of the field with his arms spread before taking off his helmet In the end zone and stood before a cheering crowd.

“The energy from the fans was amazing, but just being out there with my team-mates, having my dad in the stands, I felt amazing,” said Hamlin. “Everybody on the team has given me confidence this week – positive energy, positive everything all week long.”

After being discharged from hospital on 11 January, the 25-year-old was cleared to play again in April and appeared during the Bills’ pre-season games. And on Sunday he played in his first regular season game since the incident. He could now be part of the Bills’ squad when they travel to London to face the Jacksonville Jaguars at Tottenham next Sunday.

Hamlin’s team-mates and opponents huddled around him as he received life-saving treatment during the game at the Cincinnati Bengals in January. Several players were seen visibly distressed, with many kneeling to pray and some in tears, and the game was abandoned and not replayed after Hamlin was taken to hospital. There was widespread support from the sporting world after Hamlin’s collapse and more than $10m (£8.2m) was donated to a foundation he had set up while playing in college. In February, Hamlin said he hoped to return to football “eventually” and was still processing the trauma of the incident.

Fellow safety Andre Cisco, who earlier on Sunday helped the Jacksonville Jaguars beat the Atlanta Falcons at Wembley, said in an interview: “I played [against] Damar every year in college, we’re cordial off the field and that’s awesome for him. I’ve been praying for him ever since the incident happened. Stories like that in the league are just inspirational – keep fighting, no matter what you’re going through.”

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