NFL Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin cheered for his team from his hospital bed Sunday as they returned to the field for the first time since he experienced cardiac arrest during a game last week.
Ahead of kickoff, Hamlin showed love for his team by sharing a photo of himself watching the game from his hospital bed at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center. He’s continuing to recover but has made “remarkable improvement” since collapsing Monday, according to a statement by the Bills.
“Per the physicians at UC Medical Center, Damar is making continued progress in his recovery yet remains in critical condition,” the Bills said in an update Saturday. “He continues to breathe on his own and his neurological function is excellent.”
Hamlin FaceTimed his fellow players Friday after he was able to speak and breathe on his own without the assistance of a ventilator.
On Sunday, NFL players at games across the US warmed up while wearing Hamlin's No. 3.
A ceremony was held at Paycor Stadium, where Hamlin collapsed, before the start of Sunday's game between the Cincinnati Bengals and Baltimore Ravens in honor of him and the medical staff who treated him.
The Bills also returned to their home field, Highmark Stadium, in their first game since Hamlin’s collapse, playing the New England Patriots. The Bills returned the opening kickoff for a 96-yard touchdown, prompting joy and shock among the fans in the stand. Hamlin tweeted, “OMFG!!!!!!!!!!!!!” and the Bills noted it had been three years and three months since their last kickoff return for a touchdown. “Meant to be,” the team tweeted, referring to Hamlin's jersey number.
The Bills beat the Patriots 35–23.
Fans are showing their support for the athlete in many ways.
Ryan Magnuson, an owner of a sign shop, designed a 4-by-10-foot canvas card for fans to sign in front of the stadium Sunday, according to the Associated Press.
“It’s been very positive. I’ve seen Bills fans, I’ve seen Patriots fans and people wearing other NFL jerseys coming up. I think this is bigger than a team thing at this point,” Magnuson told the AP. “This is for Damar.”