This tribute was a total touchdown.
Before the 2023 Super Bowl between the Philadelphia Eagles and the Kansas City Chiefs kicked off on Feb. 12, the NFL honored Damar Hamlin as well as the first responders who saved his life. The crowd at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Ariz. erupted into applause as the Buffalo Bills safety, 24, walked onto the field, hugging the medical personnel who'd cared for him. Hamlin also tweeted a photo of himself at the game, writing, "Ain't It A Blessing!? #SuperBowlLVII."
Hamlin suffered a cardiac arrest during the Buffalo Bills' game against the Cincinnati Bengals at Ohio's Paycor Stadium on Jan. 2. The NFL noted the athlete "received immediate medical attention on the field by team and independent medical staff and local paramedics." The Bills said Hamlin's heartbeat was restored on the field and that he was then transferred to UC Medical Center for treatment.
During a Jan. 5 press conference, Hamlin's doctors, Dr. Timothy Pritts and Dr. William Knight IV, praised the quick emergency response.
"It was promptly recognized by the Buffalo Bills' medical staff and that allowed for a very immediate resuscitation on the field," Knight said. "He was promptly resuscitated. It did require CPR and defibrillation, and at which point he was transported to University of Cincinnati Medical Center where he was met by Dr. Pritts and the trauma team as well as our Emergency Medicine colleagues."
According to the Bills, Hamlin was sedated and listed in critical condition, and doctors noted at the time that he required a breathing tube. However, it was announced on Jan. 5 that Hamlin had awakened and that his neurological condition and function are intact. After continual progress, he was released from the hospital Jan. 9, going on to spend a few days at the Buffalo General Medical Center/Gates Vascular Institute in New York for testing and medical evaluations before being discharged Jan. 11.
Later that month, Hamlin returned to Highmark Stadium to cheer on the Bills in the NFL Divisional Round, and he expressed how much the support of his teammates and fans meant to him.
"To the Bills organization and my brothers who made it a priority to lift me up spiritually, mentally and every way possible reaching out every day, seeing how I was doing, calling and texting, you know, just checking up on me no matter the situation, I'm proud to be a part of this team," he said a Jan. 29 Instagram video. "I'm proud to be able to call you guys my brothers."
Hamlin also thanked his doctors in the video and was recognized alongside them at the 2023 NFL Honors Feb. 9.
This Super Bowl, Hamlin is supporting his childhood best friend, Eagles running back Miles Sanders, with the NFL posting a video of them celebrating before the game. And Hamlin has dreams of one day returning to playing professional football.
"Eventually. That's always the goal, like I said, as a competitor, you know, I'm trying to do things to keep advancing my situation," he told Michael Strahan during a Super Bowl pregame show, per ESPN. "But I'm allowing that to be in God's hands. I'm just thankful he gave me a second chance."
To see more stars at the Super Bowl, keep scrolling.