UPDATED: 12:30 p.m. ET., April 19
Damar Hamlin isn’t going to let his tragic injury stop him from doing what he loves.
On Tuesday, during a Buffalo Bills media day, the 24-year-old NFL safety officially announced that he plans on returning to the NFL next season.
“Over these last few months, I been on a journey and I’ve seen some of the top professionals across the country and their answers to me were pretty much all the same. This event was life-changing, but it’s not the end of my story. So I’m here to announce I plan on making a comeback to the NFL.”
Hamlin then went on to explain that commotio cordis is what caused his on-field collapse and that it’s the leading cause of death among young athletes across all sports. He also plans on bringing awareness to this rare, but deadly occurrence, and work to advocate for its prevention.
Here’s how commotio cordis is defined by the University of Connecticut’s Korey Stringer Institute, which studies injuries that cause sudden death to athletes and is named for the late former NFL player.
The definition does not offer a good prognosis for anyone who suffers commortio cordis:
Commotio Cordis refers to the sudden arrhythmic death caused by a low/mild chest wall impact. Commotio Cordis is seen mostly in athletes between the ages of 8 and 18 who are partaking in sports with projectiles such as baseballs, hockey pucks, or lacrosse balls. These projectiles can strike the athletes in the middle of the chest with a low impact but enough to cause the heart to enter an arrhythmia. Martial arts is a sport in which a strike of a hand can also cause the heart to change it’s rhythm. Without immediate CPR and defibrillation the prognosis of commotio cordis is not very good. This condition is extremely dangerous with rare survival.
Hamlin says his ultimate goal is to eventually play football again and according to Buffalo Bills General Manager Brandon Beane, there is a real possibility Hamlin will reach that goal.
“Damar is doing great,” Beane said in an interview earlier in the year. “I’m glad we’re all able to smile about his situation. He’s seen several specialists since our season has ended. That’s not done. I think he’s got two or three more that he’s got to see in various parts of the country. We’ve had one to two guys traveling with him to see these specialists because it will be a decision for Damar, but it’ll also be a decision for us.”
Beane continued, stressing the organization wants to make sure Hamlin is fully healthy before he returns to the playing field.
“We want to make sure that we hear everything that’s — assuming he gets full clearance, I know he would want to play,” Beane said. “I know that’s his end game, to continue playing. We want to make sure that we’re all in sync with, assuming the doctors say at some point he’s seen them all, that we’re in agreement that we’re OK putting him out there, too. But, so far, all is well with his testing and we’ll just let that continue.”
Some doctors are optimistic that Hamlin will make a full recovery.
According to a report by CNN, Dr. Thom Mayer, the medical director of the NFL’s Players Association, offered a “guarantee” that Hamlin will compete on the gridiron at the highest levels of competition.
“I guarantee you that Damar Hamlin will play professional football again,” Mayer said on SiriusXM Doctor Radio’s Heart to Heart show.
Hamlin’s tragic on-the-field collapse before going into cardiac arrest completely shook up the sports world. Pundits and fans who have followed the sport for years had no idea what to make of such a devastating story.
What seemed like a possible head injury at first turned even more tragic as Hamlin stopped breathing on the field. He was administered CPR and immediately taken to the hospital.
Hamlin suffered a cardiac arrest after making a tackle and his heartbeat was restored on the field. One of the more important conversations surrounding Hamlin was the topic of his contract.
Damar Hamlin is indeed still on his rookie deal. Since his contract is not guaranteed, there is no sure bet that the league will pay Hamlin if he is never able to play again.
According to Spotrac, in 2021, Damar Hamlin signed a four-year contract worth $3,640,476.
The contract included a $160,476 signing bonus, $160,476 guaranteed and an average annual salary of $910,119.
On Feb. 8, the NFL awarded Damar Hamlin with the 2023 NFL Players Association Alan Page Community Award, which annually recognizes one player who demonstrates a profound dedication to positively impacting his team’s city and communities across the country.
“Being recognized for the NFLPA Alan Page Community Award is humbling and a dream come true,” Hamlin said. “I’m humbled to even be mentioned amongst those guys. I’ve always wanted to impact my community and show that it’s possible to do great things. With this award, we’ll be able to impact even more people and keep this mission going.”
Hopefully, we get to see this amazing young man on the football field again.
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