Thursday marked another stunning turn in the miraculous recovery of Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin after he suffered cardiac arrest on the football field against the Cincinnati Bengals on Jan. 2. After speaking publicly for the first time on Jan. 28, Hamlin now has the belief of the NFL Players Association's medical director that he will eventually play NFL football again, something that seemed unfathomable about five weeks ago.
"I guarantee you that Damar Hamlin will play professional football again," Dr. Thom Mayer, the medical director for the NFLPA, said Wednesday on SiriusXM Doctor Radio's Heart to Heart show.
Hamlin participated in the 2023 NFLPA awards at the Super Bowl festivities in Arizona on Wednesday, winning the Alan Page Community Award and walking onto the stage to personally accept the honor.
"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."
The accolade honors the player who "demonstrates a profound dedication to positively impacting his team's city and communities across the country," according to the NFLPA. The award is named after Pro Football Hall of Famer and retired Minnesota Vikings defensive tackle Alan Page.
Hamlin has raised more than $9 million for his Chasing M's Foundation, per ESPN, as people showed their support by donating to his toy drive fundraiser in the days following his on-field scare. He is also using the proceeds from the sales of his T-shirts that say "Did we win?" on them to raise money for the University of Cincinnati Medical Center, where he was treated after the injury. Those were Hamlin's first words upon waking up following his Monday Night Football collapse.
Halfway into the first quarter of the Bills' Week 17 game against the Bengals on Monday Night Football, Hamlin collided with Bengals wide receiver Tee Higgins as he tackled the Bengals star wide receiver after a 13-yard gain. Hamlin immediately collapsed in the process of standing back up, prompting the Bills' medical staff to administer emergency medical treatment. Hamlin was taken off the field by ambulance and taken to UC Medical Center after receiving CPR and an automated external defibrillation (AED), where he remained in critical condition for an extended amount of time. The game was halted and never completed.
Hamlin, a sixth-round pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, started 13 games in place of an injured Micah Hyde this season.
This story was originally published by CBS Sports on Feb. 9, 2023.