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What we know about Damar Hamlin’s collapse

Damar Hamlin joined the Bills in 2021.Greg M. Cooper/Associated Press

Bills safety Damar Hamlin had to be resuscitated twice on Monday after suffering cardiac arrest during a game against the Bengals in Cincinnati, his uncle said Tuesday.

The NFL has said the Bills and Bengals will not resume their matchup this week, but that the league’s Week 18 schedule — the final week of the regular season — will not be altered.

Here’s what else we know.


What happened to Damar Hamlin?

Hamlin, 24, suffered cardiac arrest. He is sedated and in critical condition.

Hamlin was hurt while tackling Bengals receiver Tee Higgins on a seemingly routine play that didn’t appear unusually violent.

Higgins was running with the ball when he led with his right shoulder, hitting Hamlin in the chest. Hamlin then wrapped his arms around Higgins’ shoulders and helmet to drag him down. Hamlin quickly got to his feet, appeared to adjust his face mask with his right hand, and then fell backward about three seconds later and lay motionless.

He is at University of Cincinnati Medical Center.

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What is the latest on Hamlin’s condition?

ESPN reports Wednesday morning that a family friend said doctors “got promising readings they had been hoping to see.”

Hamlin’s uncle, Dorrian Glenn, told CNN on Tuesday that Hamlin had to be resuscitated twice.

“His heart had went out so they had to resuscitate him twice. They resuscitated him on the field before they brought him to the hospital, and then they resuscitated him a second time when they got him to the hospital,” Glenn said.

“They sedated him just to give a better chance for him to just continue to heal better. We are just taking it day by day. Read more here.


What’s happening Wednesday?

What’s happening with the Bills?

The Bills will hold team meetings on Wednesday and participate in a walk-through, but will not have any media availability. Read more here.


What’s next for the NFL?

The Bills-Bengals game has major playoff implications. Both teams are battling for the AFC’s No. 1 seed. The Bills (12-3) entered the game in the top spot while the Bengals (11-4) had a chance to clinch the AFC North with a victory and also were in the mix for the No. 1 seed along with Kansas City (13-3).

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The Bengals led 7-3 in the first quarter when the game was stopped. On Tuesday afternoon, the NFL said the game would not be resumed this week. Read more here.

What’s next for the Patriots?

The Patriots are scheduled to play the Bills on Sunday in the final week of the regular season. Kickoff is scheduled for 1 p.m.

The NFL said on Tuesday the Week 18 schedule had not been altered, which means Patriots-Bills is still on. Read more here.


What happened on the field?

Hamlin was down for 19 minutes while receiving medical attention. Hamlin reportedly required an automated external defibrillator (AED) in addition to CPR on the field.

Hamlin was administered CPR on the field, ESPN reported during the broadcast.

The fact that Hamlin was alive at all, though, was the product of teamwork between Bengals and Bills medical personnel, and the NFL’s “emergency action plan,” which prepared them for a situation that hadn’t occurred in the NFL since 1971, when the Lions’ Chuck Schmidt suffered a cardiac incident on the field and was later pronounced dead. Read more about the medical response here.

What took so long to postpone the game?

It took the NFL about one hour after Hamlin collapsed to officially suspend the game because league executives were gathering information and communicating with referee Shawn Smith, coaches from both teams and the NFL Players Association.

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Troy Vincent, the league’s executive vice president of football operations, said that the NFL’s Emergency Action Plan was activated. Vincent communicated with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith. Dawn Aponte, the league’s chief football administrative officer, was at the game and communicated with Bills coach Sean McDermott and Bengals coach Zac Taylor and the referee.

Sean McDermott and Zac Taylor speak prior to the decision to suspend Monday's game.Dylan Buell/Getty

“It was fluid and things were changing by the minute,” Vincent said. “It was obvious on the phone that the emotions were extremely high. It was a very volatile situation.”

Did the NFL want to resume play?

Vincent refuted ESPN’s broadcast report that both teams were given a five-minute warmup period to resume playing.

“I’m not sure where that came from,” Vincent said. “It never crossed our mind to talk about warming up to resume play. That’s ridiculous. That’s insensitive. That’s not a place we should ever be in.”

But sources told the Globe’s Chad Finn that ESPN had a direct line to the NFL throughout the night, which is standard protocol, and in that time the league never asked the network or Buck to walk back his multiple comments about a five-minute window. Read more here.


Who is Damar Hamlin?

Hamlin spent five years of college at Pittsburgh — his hometown — and appeared in 48 games for the Panthers over that span. He was a second-team All-ACC performer as a senior, was voted a team captain and was picked to play in the Senior Bowl.

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Drafted in the sixth round by the Bills in 2021, Hamlin played in 14 games as a rookie and then became a starter this season after Micah Hyde was injured.

Hamlin was taken in the sixth round of the 2021 draft.Greg M. Cooper/Associated Press

In 2020, Hamlin began organizing an annual Christmas toy drive in his hometown of McKees Rocks, Pa. By early Tuesday, a community toy drive organized by Hamlin had surged to more than $3.1 million in donations. His stated goal was $2,500.

Bills offensive lineman Rodger Saffold, in a post on Twitter, described Hamlin as a “kind, caring, extremely hard worker.” Saffold wrote that Hamlin is “loyal, honest and can always put a smile on your face. He is more than an athlete, he is a son and brother.”

Has anything like this happened before?

The NFL rarely postpones games, especially for medical reasons. The best comparison probably comes from the world of soccer.

During the 2021 European Championship in July, Denmark star Christian Eriksen collapsed on the field in a game against Finland. For 10 minutes, several medics worked frenetically to give Eriksen chest compressions while his teammates choked away tears and formed a circle around the midfielder to shield the scene from public view.

Eriksen was unconscious, and Denmark’s team doctor could feel Eriksen’s pulse slipping away.

“He was breathing, and I could feel his pulse. But suddenly that changed,” the doctor said then. “And as everyone saw, we started giving him CPR.”

Joakim Maehle reacts as Christian Eriksen lies on the pitch after collapsing during a 2021 match.Martin Meissner/Associated Press

The two teams called an emergency meeting and decided to play on after Eriksen made it to a local hospital.

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“The players couldn’t imagine not being able to sleep tonight and then having to get in tomorrow, get on the bus and play a game,” Denmark coach Kasper Hjulmand said at the time. “Honestly, it was best to get it over with.”

Eriksen was fitted with an implantable device to monitor his heart rhythm — an ICD, implantable cardioverter-defibrillator. An ICD can function as a combination between a pacemaker and a defibrillator. It monitors a person’s heartbeat and can send electrical pulses to restore a normal rhythm if necessary.

Eriksen could not return to his club team, Inter Milan, over concerns about his health. He signed with Brentford and then Manchester United. He also returned to the Danish national team and appeared in the 2022 World Cup.

The aftermath of the injury was also reminiscent of when Bills tight end Kevin Everett lay motionless on the field after making a tackle on the second-half opening kickoff in Buffalo’s 2007 season-opening game against the Denver Broncos.

Everett sustained a spinal cord injury that initially left him partially paralyzed.

How has the sports world responded?

Bills quarterback Josh Allen asked the world to “please pray for our brother.”

Tom Brady wrote on Tuesday morning: “We’re praying for Damar and his family this morning in Tampa. Moments like this put into perspective what it means to play this game we love.”

And a number of Patriots players chimed in to offer their thoughts. See the rundown here.

Read more here