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Damar Hamlin Appears 'Neurologically Intact'; 'Steady Progress' After Cardiac Arrest

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured Columnist IVJanuary 5, 2023

CINCINNATI, OH - JANUARY 04: The Cincinnati Reds show their support for Damar Hamlin outside of the Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame on January 4, 2023, in Cincinnati, OH. (Photo by Ian Johnson/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Ian Johnson/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Buffalo Bills provided an encouraging update regarding the status of safety Damar Hamlin on Thursday.

"Per the physicians caring for Damar Hamlin at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center, Damar has shown remarkable improvement over the past 24 hours," the team announced. "While still critically ill, he has demonstrated that he appears to be neurologically intact. His lungs continue to heal and he is making steady progress."

Bills cornerback Kaiir Elam and Ian Rapoport of NFL Network also added more optimism with updates:

Kaiir Elam @kaiirelam5

Our boy is doing better, awake and showing more signs of improvement. Thank you God. Keep the prayers coming please. All love 3!

Ian Rapoport @RapSheet

<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Bills?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Bills</a> S Damar Hamlin opened his eyes last night and is responsive. Truly incredible. One thing that's very clear from speaking to those close to him: They are endlessly appreciative of the medical care given to Hamlin on the field immediately, then over the last 72 hours.

Ian Rapoport @RapSheet

Dr. Timothy Pritts of UC Health, on Damar Hamlin: "He's made substantial improvement. It appears his neurological condition and function is intact. We are very proud to report that. ... This marks a really good turning point in his ongoing care."

Doctors at UC Medical Center highlighted how important the quick response from the Bills' training staff and medical personnel was in saving Hamlin's life and neurological function.

They also said the 24-year-old can communicate via writing and asked who won the game, to which doctors replied, "You won in the game of life."

Adam Kilgore @AdamKilgoreWP

The best-case scenario for Hamlin, Pritts said, is that he returns to "who he was at 8 p.m. Monday." Which is extremely encouraging. Pritts also noted "it's entirely too early" to discuss whether he could play professional football again.

This follows a Wednesday update from the Bills in which they reported Hamlin was still in critical condition but had demonstrated "signs of improvement."

Hamlin collapsed after tackling Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Tee Higgins during Monday's game. It was later revealed he suffered a cardiac arrest and needed his heartbeat restored on the field before he was taken to the hospital.

Players from both the Bengals and the Bills shielded him from view as CPR was administered.

The game was suspended and then postponed.

Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow told reporters Wednesday that captains on his team approached the Bills and said they did not want to play the rest of the game. Buffalo's players felt the same way.

"Seeing the way he handled his team just deepened that respect for him and verified everything I always thought he was about as a man," Bengals coach Zac Taylor told reporters when discussing Buffalo coach Sean McDermott's handling of the situation and desire to go to the hospital with Hamlin instead of finishing the game.

There has not been a decision from the NFL regarding whether the game will be replayed, but Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk reported "current momentum" is trending toward declaring the matchup a no-contest and leaving playoff seeding up to the outcomes of the Week 18 games.

That would mean the Bengals would clinch the AFC North title but no longer have a path to the AFC's No. 1 seed. They could earn the No. 2 seed with a win over the Baltimore Ravens and a Bills loss to the New England Patriots.

Buffalo could clinch the No. 1 seed with a win paired with a Kansas City Chiefs loss to the Las Vegas Raiders.