(NewsNation) — Players, coaches and fans are sending their prayers and support after Bills’ safety Damar Hamlin collapsed during the “Monday Night Football” game against the Cincinnati Bengals.
Hamlin was administered CPR on the field, ESPN reported, while surrounded by teammates, some of them in tears, while they shielded him from public view. He was hurt while tackling Bengals receiver Tee Higgins on a seemingly routine play that didn’t appear unusually violent.
The Monday night matchup between the Bills and Bengals was suspended following the serious injury to Hamlin, which occurred at the 5:58 mark of the first quarter with the Bengals leading 7-3.
Players and fans have flooded social media with messages of prayer and support for Hamlin.
Higgins tweeted: “My prayers and thoughts go out @HamlinIsland the Hamlin Family. I’m praying that you pull through, bro.”
Late Monday night, the NFL released a statement on Hamlin. “Our thoughts are with Damar, his family and the Buffalo Bills,” it said. “We will provide more information as it becomes available.”
Stefon Diggs, one of Hamlin’s teammates, was spotted entering the hospital where Damar is being treated. A group of about 100 Bengals and Bills fans reportedly embraced while praying together a block from the hospital.
“Please continue to pray for Damar and his family. We currently have no update at this time. Will ask that you keep the family in your prayers,” said Hamlin’s agent Ira Turner in a statement.
Fans inside the arena were stunned. They said the stadium went quiet and at first, it seemed like a normal play, but they knew it was serious after they saw the players’ reactions.
“They formed kind of a huddle around the player, so it was kind of hard to see the resuscitation but as soon as the ambulance came on the field, it’s kind of like “holy crap,” this is like for real serious,” said Jason Graven, a Bengals fan.
“The whole stadium came together as one. At that point, it didn’t really matter about who you were representing, it was just like oh my God, everybody let’s play, let’s make sure he’s good,” said Renardo Haro, a Bengals fan.
Kathryn Bersani and her mother, Gayle, were among the Bills fans who traveled from Buffalo for the game and went to the hospital from the stadium.
“This is our family Christmas,” Kathryn Bersani said. “We thought it would be a great game. Joe (Burrow) and Josh (Allen) are such great men. Sad, sad time. Such a shock. I just hope he can live a normal life. It stunned us.”
Chuck and Janet Kohl went to the hospital after watching the game at home.
“This is much more important than football,” Chuck Kohl said. “Had to come and pray for Mr. Hamlin.”
Meanwhile, when the game was officially postponed, a GoFundMe for his charity “Chasing M’s” started circulating through social media.
The online toy drive fundraiser was started by Hamlin in 2020 and had the original goal of raising $2,500. Fans have raised more than $3 million as of Tuesday morning.
“Following his injury on the field tonight, fans across the country are showing their support for him and his family by donating to his fundraiser,” GoFundMe tweeted Monday night.
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.
He was drafted in the sixth round by the Bills in 2021, played in 14 games as a rookie and then became a starter this year once Micah Hyde was lost for the season to injury.