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Damar Hamlin Collapse: Sean McDermott, Josh Allen, Zac Taylor and Joe Burrow Among Those Who Helped Lead

A look into how players and coaches from the Bills and the Bengals helped lead each other through the aftermath of Damar Hamlin's collapse Monday night.

There’s still a lot we don’t know about what happened to Bills safety Damar Hamlin in the first quarter of Monday-night’s game in Cincinnati—on both what caused the 24-year-old, second year safety to go into cardiac arrest and collapse, and the aftermath of the incident. 

What we do know, first and foremost, is a lot of people on the ground did the best they could to handle a shocking and terrifying situation.

For now, the thoughts of most are where they should be, with Hamlin and his loved ones..

“Damar Hamlin spent last night in the intensive care unit and remains there today in critical condition at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center. We are grateful and thankful for the outpouring of support we have received thus far,” the franchise tweeted Tuesday.

Hamlin’s family released a statement early Tuesday morning to thank fans and individuals around the NFL for their continued prayers.

Bills coach Sean McDermott in the aftermatch of Damar Hamlin collapse against Bengals in Week 17.

McDermott kneels after Hamlin's collapse on the field halted Monday night's Bills-Bengals matchup.

“On behalf of our family, we want to express our sincere gratitude for the love and support shown to Damar during this challenging time,” the statement read. “We are deeply moved by the prayers, kind words, and donations from fans around the country.

“We also want to acknowledge the dedicated first responders and healthcare professionals at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center who have provided exceptional care to Damar,” the statement continued. “We feel so blessed to be part of the Buffalo Bills organization and to have their support. We also want to thank Coach [Zac] Taylor and the Bengals for everything they’ve done.

“Your generosity and compassion mean the world to us. Please keep Damar in your prayers. We will release updates as soon as we have them.”

For as horrific as the events of the night involving Hamlin were, there was a mountain of kindness and good deeds done by people who are praying with everyone else for Hamlin to recover.

Here’s what we know about what happened Monday night:

• First and foremost, the first responders on the scene, by all accounts, enacted the emergency action plan that is in place, and rehearsed annually (right down to the route the ambulance would take to the hospital), at all 30 NFL stadiums. One Bengals staffer mentioned how perhaps the first sign of real trouble for the home team was seeing the Cincinnati medical and training staffs rush onto the field to tend to Hamlin. Likewise, the Bills’ medical staff and the independent medical people on-site reacted quickly to administer CPR and use an automated external defibrillator [AED] to try to stabilize Hamlin.

• Bills people were, understandably, private about what coach Sean McDermott and quarterback Josh Allen said in the locker room, but lauded the way they handled the situation with staff and players, respectively, with a real understanding of where everyone was mentally after witnessing what happened. One person on the field mentioned that while the players crowding around Hamlin shielded those watching on TV from seeing the care being administered—and provided Hamlin with support—it also exposed them to a highly traumatizing sight. McDermott was very clearly aware of that in dealing with everyone after Hamlin went down, and in leading the team in prayer on the field.

• While his players were getting loose on the field, Taylor spotted McDermott, and walked over to him upon seeing the shaken look on his face. In the moment, the Bengals’ coach showed compassion for not only his peer but the condition of McDermott’s team. And after that, it became clear to everyone involved that no more football would be played that night.

• After the players went back to their locker rooms, Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow gathered the Cincinnati captains to walk over to the Bills’ locker room to check in on the Buffalo players. There’s an unspoken code among NFL players that, due to football being such a violent game, dictates that guys take care of one another whenever they can. And this is a vivid illustration of it.

• NFL fans offered some powerful public displays of humanity overnight. Mostly, and rightly, it was prayers for Hamlin. But it was also the way donations flooded into a GoFundMe page that Hamlin set up his final year at Pitt, as he prepared to go into the draft, to support a toy drive in Pittsburgh. The page had been dormant with a goal back in 2020 to raise $2,500. Bills fans found it, people from all over have jumped aboard, and donations, as of 4:30 p.m. ET, had topped $4.7 million. And then, there are some of the smaller acts of kindness, including support for Bengals WR Tee Higgins, who was clearly affected, after being the one who contacted Hamlin on the play that led to his collapse.

Bills quarterback Josh Allen and Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow react to the Damar Hamlin collapse during their matchup in Week 17.

Burrow and Allen stepped up to lead their teams and help each other through the scary scene involving Hamlin during their Monday night matchup.

Bengals coaches gave their players the green light to go home and be with their families soon after the game was suspended for the night in the 10 p.m. ET hour—Higgins was seen in the tunnel shortly thereafter, arm in arm with his mother. Cincinnati coaches returned to work Tuesday morning and met, while players had their regularly scheduled day off.

Things, obviously, were more complicated for the Bills.

At least one player, star receiver Stefon Diggs, jumped in an Uber and traveled to the UC Medical Center, some two miles away, to try to see Hamlin. The team buses didn’t leave the stadium for the airport in northern Kentucky until after midnight, and players, coaches and staff didn’t arrive back in Buffalo until around 2:30 a.m. ET.

Bills staff was at the team facility Tuesday morning, with players coming in, but only to get information on the next steps. What they know at this point is the NFL announced Tuesday that the Bills vs. Bengals matchup will not be rescheduled for this week.

“The NFL continues to be in regular contact with the medical team caring for Damar Hamlin, and also the Bills and Bengals organizations and the NFL Players Association,” the NFL’s statement read. “After speaking with both teams and NFLPA leadership, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell informed the clubs today that the Bills-Bengals game will not be resumed this week.

Buffalo is scheduled to play New England at home Sunday. Of course, you’d imagine for the Bills’ players and staff that playing that game is the furthest thing from their minds right now.