ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (WIVB) — Josh Collins and his son are Bengals season ticket holders. They bring a sign and sharpie to every single game — and Collins said when Damar Hamlin got injured, he knew what he had to do to show support.
“70,000 people were as quiet as a Christmas Eve night,” Collins said of the moment Hamlin was injured.
He said up until that point, the stadium was buzzing with excitement. Then the ambulance appeared on the field. Collins said he was getting updates from his wife and daughter who were watching the game from home.
“I knew it was bad,” he said. “When they told me they had to bring out the defibrillator, I turned around and broke my marker out and flipped my Bengals sign around.”
Collins and his son originally had a Bengals sign to cheer on their team, but he said he wanted to do something in that moment to support the Bills instead. Collins wrote on the sign “Pray for Buffalo” with Hamlin’s name and jersey number.
“I had the back of a blank sign and a Sharpie and I just put my emotions on the sign,” he said. “It was support all the way around. I saw orange and black, blue and red, all intermingled, embracing, tears falling together. Just a community coming together as one.”
Collins remained in the stands until the stadium cleared out. He said he wanted every person who walked by to see his sign. Meanwhile, that message was reaching Bills fans across the country, who were blown away by the act of kindness.
People were able to track Collins down through Facebook, and began reaching out to say thanks. But Collins said he didn’t do it for the recognition — he did it for Damar.
“When it comes to sports — and we can have rivalries and we can have competitions — but when push comes to shove, it’s about humans,” Collins said. “We don’t ever want to see anybody get injured. Just keep praying for Damar. Let’s just hope he leaves the Cincinnati hospital happy and healthy and gets back to Buffalo soon.”
Collins runs a youth sports organization in his hometown of Canal Winchester — a suburb outside Columbus. He said some Bills Mafia members began donating to the organization to thank him for his support.
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