January 4, 2023 The latest updates on NFL star Damar Hamlin's condition

By Jessie Yeung, Sophie Tanno, Aditi Sangal, Adrienne Vogt and Mike Hayes, CNN

Updated 9:45 AM ET, Thu January 5, 2023
33 Posts
Sort byDropdown arrow
6:34 p.m. ET, January 4, 2023

NFL is investigating every possible cause of Hamlin’s cardiac arrest, chief medical officer says

From CNN's Jen Christensen

Dr. Allen Sills speaks during a media call on Wednesday, January 4.
Dr. Allen Sills speaks during a media call on Wednesday, January 4. (NFL)

The NFL is investigating every possible cause behind the cardiac arrest of Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin, which resulted in his collapse mid-game against the Cincinnati Bengals, according to the NFL’s chief medical officer Dr. Allen Sills. 

“I know there's been a lot of theories and a lot of discussion about commotio cordis, and that certainly is possible,” Sills said Wednesday on a press call.

Commotio cordis happens when severe trauma to the chest disrupts the heart’s electrical charge, causing dangerous fibrillations. 

Sills said it is a diagnosis of exclusion, meaning it might be the diagnosis if doctors don’t find any other causes.

“You have to have the right type of blow hitting at the right spot on the chest with the right amount of force at just the right time in that cardiac cycle. So a lot of things have to line up for that to happen,” Sills said.

Doctors will look for any potential congenital or other abnormalities with Hamlin’s heart, he said. Every player gets a physical before each season, and doctors take a detailed medical history, which includes American Heart Association screening guidelines related to potential cardiac issues.

Sills said any time a player is evacuated from the field, the NFL and its medical experts do a detailed review of what happened. They will also look specifically at the role of protective equipment. 

“I think that’s something that certainly we want to look at,” he said. “We do know that padding over the sternum can be protective to blows in situations where commotio cordis is a consideration, so that is something that certainly will be discussed.”

Currently, players’ shoulder pads typically fit in an area that covers the sternum, he said.

Sills said that in some cases, the medical team will not be able to determine what caused the problem.

Regardless of the cause, what helped in this situation was that the NFL had the right people and equipment in place to provide “an extremely rapid response,” he said.”

6:25 p.m. ET, January 4, 2023

Tom Brady and Russell Wilson among players who have donated to Hamlin's charity toy drive

From CNN's Wayne Sterling

Tom Brady and Russell Wilson
Tom Brady and Russell Wilson (Getty Images)

Multiple NFL teams and players have donated to Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin's GoFundMe toy drive charity.

Indianapolis Colts and owner Jim Irsay donated $25,003, the NFL team told CNN Wednesday. 

New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft and the team contributed $18,003. The Patriots wrote on Twitter Wednesday, "In Jewish culture, 18 symbolizes “chai” or “life", while 3 represents Hamlin’s number."

Also donating were the Houston Texans who gave $10,003 and the Washington Commanders who gave $5,000, both teams told CNN.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady as well as Denver Broncos quarterback Russell Wilson and his wife Ciara donated $10,000 apiece.

New Orleans quarterback Andy Dalton and his wife, JJ, gave $3,000 to Hamlin's charity.

Dalton talked about his special bond with the Buffalo Bills' fan base.

"I think this has been something that I have personally been affected by, especially with that happening to a Bills player, the Bills fan base," Dalton said. "The support of Buffalo have donated to my foundation through a win. 
"Now this is something completely different. This is a tragedy that something happened and so one way to show our support is we wanted to give back. ...The donation is small but we're really thinking about him and praying that he's going to push through with everything."

Fantasy leagues are donating too, according to a GoFundMe.

“A lot of fantasy football leagues are donating their prize pots to the fundraiser," the spokesperson told CNN. "You can find at least a handful using the league name as the donor name. For context the MNF football game in which Hamlin got hurt was the final game for most fantasy football playoffs."

The GoFundMe organized by Hamlin has raised more than $6.5 million.  

5:16 p.m. ET, January 4, 2023

Sports commentators Skip Bayless and Shannon Sharpe feud on air over controversial Damar Hamlin tweet

From CNN's Nathaniel Meyersohn

Skip Bayless spent a third straight day defending his controversial tweet about Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin, this time during a tense exchange Wednesday with his Fox Sports talk show co-host Shannon Sharpe.

Sharpe, a former NFL player and member of the NFL Hall of Fame, returned to the duo's talk show "Undefeated" Wednesday after missing Tuesday's show. His absence followed co-host Bayless' widely criticized tweet questioning whether the NFL should have ended the Bills' game Monday against the Cincinnati Bengals after Hamlin collapsed on the field. Hamlin went into cardiac arrest after a hit to his chest area.

During the incident Monday, Bayless tweeted: "no doubt the NFL is considering postponing the rest of this game - but how? This late in the season, a game of this magnitude is crucial to the regular-season outcome ... which suddenly seems so irrelevant."

Bayless later followed up with a tweet, saying the controversy surrounding that tweet was a misunderstanding of his intention.

On Wednesday, the hosts of "Undisputed" immediately got into an argument at the beginning of the show.

"I've never seen anybody have to be revived and fight for their life on the field," Sharpe said during his opening monologue. "Skip tweeted something, and although I disagreed with the tweet, and hopefully Skip would take it down. But I wanted..."

Bayless immediately interrupted, saying "I'm not going to take it down, because I stand by what I tweeted."

Read more here

3:54 p.m. ET, January 4, 2023

New York Giants head coach on Damar Hamlin: "He's a tremendous young man"

From CNN's Wayne Sterling

New York Giants head coach Brian Daboll coaches from the sidelines during the Giants' game against the Indianapolis Colts on January 1.
New York Giants head coach Brian Daboll coaches from the sidelines during the Giants' game against the Indianapolis Colts on January 1. (Seth Wenig/AP)

New York Giants head coach Brian Daboll spoke fondly about Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin on Wednesday.

"Lot of us have been around Damar. We offer our prayers to him, his family, to the people in that organization. They've been through a lot,” the former Bills offensive coordinator said at a news conference. 

“This is tragic, tragic to see. Feel for Damar most importantly, his family, but all the players and coaches that are around him every day. He’s a tremendous young man and just pray for recovery. It was tough.”

Daboll arrived at the news conference wearing a Giants hat with the number three stitched on it to honor Hamlin, the team said.

"It's been difficult the last couple of days," he said on returning to work. "It's a relationship business and when something like that happens to people that mean a lot to you or even if you don't know him, you have just a great amount of respect for, it really doesn't really matter what job you do, but having been around the young man, know him, know the type of person he is, that's tough."

3:04 p.m. ET, January 4, 2023

NFL hasn't discussed whether Patriots and Bills game will be postponed, executive says

From CNN's Wayne Sterling

The NFL hasn't discussed whether Sunday's New England Patriots at Buffalo Bills game will be postponed.

"We have not had that discussion. We have literally ... just constantly talking to the clubs and in particular, the Bills," Troy Vincent, NFL Executive Vice President of Football Operations said at a league virtual news conference on Wednesday. "It's really important that we just keep the pulse of the coach and the players and don't get in front of that. 

"We'll allow [Bills head coach Sean McDermott] and his team and his staff and the players which are the most important thing here to guide us if we have to make that decision, collectively with the club and what's best for Sean and his team and the players."

Vincent said, "Everything is being considered," when asked what options the league had in order for the Bills and Cincinnati Bengals game to take place — from changing schedules to possibly pushing back the playoffs a week or eliminating the bye week ahead of the Super Bowl.

"Those guiding principles that took us into the 2020 season with Covid, all of those things will be things that guide us through this conversation and making sure the proper equity is in place."

He added: "It may not be perfect but it will allow those that are participating who have earned that right to play to continue to play."

3:33 p.m. ET, January 4, 2023

NFL executive once again refutes claim that Bills and Bengals players were told to warm-up after Hamlin was hurt

From CNN's David Close

Troy Vincent, NFL executive vice president of football operations, speaks to the media May 22, 2019.
Troy Vincent, NFL executive vice president of football operations, speaks to the media May 22, 2019. (Brynn Anderson/AP)

An emotional Troy Vincent, the NFL's Executive Vice President of Football Operations and former NFL cornerback, said he wanted to be clear about the report of Bills-Bengals players being told to prepare for a restart of the Monday night game after Damar Hamlin was taken off the field by ambulance.

"I apologize if I was short," Vincent said referring to the NFL's media teleconference held just hours after the Bills-Bengals game was postponed. "I feel like I snapped or I was hasty in my answer.
"I just want to be clear. Just that suggestion alone was inappropriate. It was insensitive. And frankly, it lacked empathy and compassion for Damar's situation. Who was still in the woods and fighting for his life to this day," Vincent said with his voice full of emotion. "It was just so insensitive to think that we were even thinking about returning to play."

On Tuesday's teleconference, Vincent sternly refuted the suggestion players were told to warm up after Hamlin was hurt. “We never, frankly, it never crossed our mind to talk about warming up to resume play. That's ridiculous,” he said earlier this week.

Vincent continued on Wednesday, "I don’t know who said it (the reporter who asked about return to play on Tuesday morning) and I really don't care. But the only thing that matter to myself, the team here, the folks in the stadium, the coaches, was the health and wellness of Damar. And getting those coaches back to the locker room so they could look their players in their eyes and see who they are.

"They were hurting. There was a lot of pain. Talking to the commissioner (Roger Goodell), communicating with everyone, it was just important...we just couldn't play!"

Some more context: Earlier on Wednesday, ESPN said it is sticking by its reporting that the NFL had initially planned to resume Monday's football game after Hamlin suffered cardiac arrest and collapsed on the field — a claim the NFL vehemently denies.

The NFL postponed Monday's game following the on-field injury. Although initially criticized that the announcement of the game’s postponement took more than an hour, the NFL was ultimately praised for its consequential decision to call off the contest. 

ESPN said in a statement Wednesday: "There was constant communication in real time between ESPN and league and game officials. As a result of that, we reported what we were told in the moment and immediately updated fans as new information was learned. This was an unprecedented, rapidly evolving circumstance. All night long, we refrained from speculation."

3:24 p.m. ET, January 4, 2023

NFL executives praise medical response following Damar Hamlin's injury

From CNN's David Close

Dr. Allen Sills, the NFL’s chief medical officer, complimented the immediate response by medical personnel after Bills safety Damar Hamlin was injured Monday night.

“It’s certainly not an exaggeration to say that the skilled and the immediate response by all of these talented caregivers prevented a very tragic outcome at that moment,” Sills said.

“Certainly, we never want to see events like this occur but if there were to be a medical emergency there was absolutely the right team, with the right equipment, and the right training on-site and able to provide care."

Sills, talking on a media call on Wednesday, did not provide a medical update on Hamlin's condition.

An ambulance transports Damar Hamlin out of Paycor Stadium in Cincinnati on January 2.
An ambulance transports Damar Hamlin out of Paycor Stadium in Cincinnati on January 2. (Dylan Buell/Getty Images)

Troy Vincent, NFL Executive Vice President of Football Operations, also praised the first responders for their actions.  

"My greatest fear has flashed in front of me that particular moment but to the goodness and grace of God, Damar is still here and he's still fighting," Vincent said during the league's virtual news conference on Wednesday.

Vincent was not on camera for the media call, but his voice was full of emotion.

"There's no playbook for managing real-time drama and emotions associated with immediate life-threatening event that occurred on Monday night," Vincent said. "There was only one policy and practice that mattered that evening and that was the emotional action plan by those first responders." 

He added: "[The league's] emergency action plan was executed to perfection, by individuals who rehearsed and practiced and trained for in-stadium health emergency and Dr. Sills and to the medical professionals, first responders to physicians to trainers, the EMTs that evening was outstanding. You gave our brother, Damar, another day to live, another chance to fight."

1:38 p.m. ET, January 4, 2023

Hamlin remains in critical condition with signs of improvement, Buffalo Bills say

Damar Hamlin remains in critical condition with signs of improvement, the Buffalo Bills tweeted Wednesday.

"Damar remains in the ICU in critical condition with signs of improvement noted yesterday and overnight," the team tweeted. "He is expected to remain under intensive care as his health care team continues to monitor and treat him."

View the tweet:

1:46 p.m. ET, January 4, 2023

After soccer player suffered cardiac arrest on pitch, coach said "it was very tough" on team to restart match

From CNN's Matias Grez

Denmark's players react as paramedics attend to midfielder Christian Eriksen after he collapsed on the pitch during the UEFA EURO 2020 Group B football match June 12, 2021, in Copenhagen.
Denmark's players react as paramedics attend to midfielder Christian Eriksen after he collapsed on the pitch during the UEFA EURO 2020 Group B football match June 12, 2021, in Copenhagen. (Friedemann Vogel/AFP/Getty Images)

Buffalo Bills offensive tackle Dion Dawkins told CNN's Wolf Blitzer that he was "truly blessed that we didn't have to keep playing" in Monday's game against the the Cincinnati Bengals after Bills safety Damar Hamlin collapsed.

However, just over 18 months ago, a major international tournament soccer match between Denmark and Finland did resume after Dane Christian Eriksen collapsed on the pitch at Euro 2020 after suffering a cardiac arrest.

The Danish midfielder received life-saving treatment during the game in June 2021, eventually being resuscitated and taken to hospital.

The match was then restarted later that same evening after a request was made from players of both teams to finish the match.

Eriksen was conscious when he left the pitch, even waving to the fans as he was carried away on a stretcher, and a statement from the Danish Football Federation soon afterward confirmed he was awake in the hospital and awaiting further examination.

In contrast, Hamlin remains sedated on a ventilator as doctors work toward getting him to breathe on his own, according to his uncle.

Despite the decision to resume the match being taken by the players, Denmark head coach Kasper Hjulmand admitted the next day he thought it was the "wrong decision."

"It was very tough for the players," he told reporters. "They didn't even know if they could probably lose their best friend.

"I have the feeling that we shouldn't have played and wrong that the players had to decide. I'm really proud of the way the world reacted to this incident," he added.

"It's often about money, but yesterday we saw what football is all about — compassion and love" he said.