An emotional outpouring for Damar Hamlin as Bills take the field


Fans hold a sign in support of Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin during the second half of an NFL football game against the New England Patriots, Sunday, Jan. 8, 2023, in Orchard Park. Hamlin remains hospitalized after suffering a catastrophic on-field collapse in the team’s previous game against the Cincinnati Bengals. (AP Photo/Jeffrey T. Barnes)

(NewsNation) — The Buffalo Bills returned to the field Sunday and it was all in tribute to Number 3, Damar Hamlin.

“All of #BillsMafia is standing with Damar Hamlin,” the NFL tweeted.

It’s been an emotional week for the entire sports world, but especially those in Buffalo, after Hamlin collapsed, went into cardiac arrest and had to be revived on the field on Monday night.

“You play for the name on the front. 3 is special. We play for that (bleeping) number on our front, too. Let’s go get one dub. Win on 3, win on 3…1,2,3…win!,” posted Josh Allen on Twitter.

Hamlin is still listed in critical condition, but making a remarkable recovery in the
ICU at U.C. medical center in Cincinnati.

Hamlin tweeted a photo from his hospital bed. Gameday, it read — a heart in hand, family by his side.

Hamlin’s presence was omnipresent at the Bills-Patriots game 425 miles away from Highmark Stadium — it was un-bill-ieveable 14 seconds in.

“And here’s Hines on the runback, breaking a tackle, and taking it past midfield and down the sideline he goes. This is storybook. And opening kickoff return for Damar Hamlin,” Adam Schefter posted on social media.

“Obviously the first kickoff, you couldn’t have scripted it any better. It was pretty. That one was pretty emotional,” said Bills quarterback Josh Allen.

Just a few miles down the road from the stadium, at Buffalo Riverworks Brewing, fans felt the gravity of the opening moments. Life-long bills fan Ian Snyder has chills describing that storybook start.

“It just so much more beyond football, said Snyder. “We’re all human beings, and to see something like that happened to someone and then, you know, you get back to football. And then the very first play of the game that happens and you’re just It’s electric. Everyone loves it.”

And how’s this for goosebumps? The Bill’s last kickoff return for a TD was three years and three months ago.

The love for Hamlin was on sight league-wide. Pre-game shirts. Prayers on the field. Number 3’s presence, felt in every city, every stadium.

But nowhere more than here in Orchard Park is Hamlin apparel on every corner. 3’s blanketed every tailgate. Football made its way back to Buffalo on this gloomy Sunday in Western New York — but everyone’s hearts were still with Hamlin.

“I’ve prayed for him,’ said Marnetta Malcolm, Bills fan and cardiac arrest survivor. “I am a recent cardiac arrest survivor, so that was very triggering. I knew he was going to make it. He’s a lot younger and healthier than me. So, I’m just here and god bless you, thank you and the Bills won and it was an awesome win, so we did it for him.”

Players gather for a prayer after an NFL football game between the Buffalo Bills and the New England Patriots, Sunday, Jan. 8, 2023, in Orchard Park. (AP Photo/Adrian Kraus)

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