NFL player Damar Hamlin making ‘substantial progress’; ESPN host offers ‘brave’ on-air prayer 

Damar Hamlin Damar Hamlin, a safety for the Buffalo Bills, went into cardiac arrest after a tackle in a Jan. 2, 2023, game against the Cincinnati Bengals. | Buffalo Bills YouTube Channel

Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin, who collapsed during a Monday night game and went into cardiac arrest, shocking the sports world, is showing signs of improvement, although he remains in critical condition. 

“There’s been substantial improvement in his condition over the past 24 hours,” Dr. Timothy Pritts, division chief of general surgery at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center, where Hamlin is being treated, told CNN Thursday.

“We had significant concern about him after the injury and after the event that happened on the field, but he’s making substantial progress,” he said.

Pritts said that as of Thursday morning, Hamlin is “beginning to awaken,” adding that “it appears that his neurological condition and function is intact.”

Hamlin is still in critical condition and is still being cared for in the ICU, Pritts said.

Players around the league and across the sports world have been offering prayers for Hamlin since his injury. An on-air prayer by NFL analyst Dan Orlovsky earned praise from fans and commentators on social media.

On ESPN’s commentary show NFL Live, former Detroit Lions quarterback Orlovsky took a moment to lead fellow analysts Marcus Spears and Laura Rutledge in prayer for Hamlin.

Orlovsky, an outspoken believer in Jesus Christ, said: “It’s just on my heart that I want to pray for Damar Hamlin right now.”

Orlovsky recited this prayer:

“God, we come to you in these moments that we don’t understand, that are hard because we believe that you’re God. And coming to you and praying to you has impact. We’re sad. We’re angry. And we want answers. But some things are unanswerable. We just want to pray [and] truly come to you and pray for strength for Damar; for healing for Damar; for comfort for Damar; to be with his family, to give them peace. If we didn’t believe that prayer didn’t work, we wouldn’t ask this of you, God. I believe in prayer. We believe in prayer. We lift up Damar Hamlin’s name in your name. Amen.”

Both Spear and Rutledge concluded with an “amen” as well.

ESPN posted a video of the prayer, which can be watched below. 

Orlovsky was lauded by many for his “bravery” in praying so publicly.

It’s unclear what caused Hamlin’s heart attack, as doctors are still working to determine how it happened, another doctor told CNN.

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Late in the first quarter of the away game against the Cincinnati Bengals, Hamlin tackled an opposing receiver, Tee Higgins. Higgins led with his shoulder into Hamlin’s chest before being brought to the ground. In videos of the injury, Hamlin can be seen standing up after the tackle and then collapsing straight back. 

In a statement Tuesday, the Bills said that Hamlin suffered from cardiac arrest after the hit. His heartbeat was restored on the field and he was brought to the University of Cincinnati Medical Center in an ambulance, the Bills said. 

Hamlin received CPR while on the field and was brought off on a stretcher, according to Hamlin was sedated and listed in critical condition, the statement said.

The game was suspended and postponed after the incident. 

As the ambulance departed the field on Monday night, Bills players and staff were seen kneeling and praying for Hamlin. 

Hamlin’s Pittsburgh Catholic high school, where he earned the state’s honor of Class AAAA Defensive Player of the Year, issued a statement on Hamlin’s injury.

“The Central Catholic High School Community is praying for the well-being and swift recovery of Damar Hamlin, ’16 (Buffalo Bills), after a scary situation on the field against the Bengals in Cincinnati on Monday,” the Jan. 3 statement from Central Catholic High School said.

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“Hamlin, a highly respected young man, has been an integral part of our Catholic Lasallian Community and regularly returns to Central to speak with participants of our football camps,” the statement said.

The full statement can be found here.

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