ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (WIVB) — Bills safety Damar Hamlin has been fully cleared to return to football and intends to make an NFL comeback, the 25-year-old confirmed during a media availability on Tuesday.
“Over these last few months, I’ve been on a journey and I’ve seen some of the top professionals across the country, and their answers to me … were the same. This event was life-changing, but it’s not the end of my story,” Hamlin said. “I plan on making a comeback to the NFL.”
Hamlin saw three different specialists since the aftermath of his cardiac arrest during a game against the Cincinnati Bengals in January, including most recently on Friday, and all of them gave the OK for Hamlin to return to the field, according to Bills general manager Brandon Beane, who spoke prior to Hamlin on Tuesday.
“They’re all in agreement,” Beane said. “They’re all in lock step of what this was and that he is cleared to resume full activities just like anyone else who was coming back from an injury or whatever. He’s fully cleared, he’s here.”
Hamlin confirmed that he suffered commotio cordis on the field in Cincinnati, which he described as a direct blow to one’s chest at a specific point during a heartbeat that causes cardiac arrest.
“Commotio cordis is the leading cause of death in youth athletes across all sports, so that’s something I will personally be taking a step in to make a change,” Hamlin said.
Hamlin’s recovery is personal to many who watched in shock as Hamlin collapsed on the field on a nationally televised “Monday Night Football” game, and for him, still being able to wake up, breathe and be around family and friends is the most important facet of it all.
“I died on national TV in front of the whole world,” Hamlin said. “I see it from all perspectives, and for [family and loved ones] to still have me around and for me to still have them … that right there is the biggest blessing of it all.”
The 25-year-old has been participating in the team’s voluntary offseason workouts, which started on Monday.
Despite his cardiac arrest occurring just under four months ago, the Bills safety is still ready to compete.
“My heart is still in the game, I love the game,” Hamlin said. “It’s something I want to prove to myself, not nobody else. I just want to show people that fear is a choice, that you can keep going in something without having the answers and without knowing what’s at the end of the tunnel.”
Since his collapse on the field and subsequent recovery, Hamlin has pushed heavily for improved access to AEDs at sporting events and school campuses. In March, Hamlin and his family met with President Joe Biden in Washington, D.C. to help introduce the “Access to AEDs Act.”
Hamlin, who is from the Pittsburgh area, appeared in 15 games for the Bills in 2022 prior to his cardiac arrest, totaling 91 combined tackles and 1.5 sacks.
“Such a great kid, such a great family,” Beane said. “His story hasn’t been written, now it’s about the comeback … To truly, however many months later, be talking about he’s been fully cleared is pretty remarkable. I’m excited for him and his family.”
You can view Hamlin’s full media availability above.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Adam Gorski is a Buffalo native who joined the News 4 team in 2022. You can find more of his work here.