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Steelers Coach Mike Tomlin Details 'Personal' Relationship with Bills DB Damar Hamlin

The on-field collapse of Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin Monday hit the emotions of Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin differently than most.

Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin opened up his press conference Tuesday to send condolences toward Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin, who went into cardiac arrest on the field Monday night against the Cincinnati Bengals.

"I have a lot of love for that young man," Tomlin said. "We lifted him and that organization up in prayer.”

Hamlin, a native of McKees Rocks, Penn. - only about a 10-minute drive away from downtown Pittsburgh - played collegiality with the Pitt Panthers, as he's a Pennsylvanian through and through.

Tomlin, who has been the head coach of the Steelers since 2007, revealed that Monday's events were "really personal" to him due to the long relationship he's had with Hamlin.

“Man, it’s a really personal thing with me, being a Pittsburgher and that young man being a Pittsburgher,” Tomlin said. “I’ve known that guy probably since he was about 12. I just have a lot of respect and love for him as a human being, his commitment to the pursuit of his goals and dreams of playing in the NFL."

In what was unknown at the time, Hamlin appeared to have suffered cardiac arrest seconds after making a hard tackle on Bengals receiver Tee Higgins. Hamlin could be seen standing up off the field at the conclusion of the play before collapsing to the ground in what was a scary and emotional sight. He received CPR on the spot before being taken away in an ambulance.

Tomlin admitted he reached out to Bills coach Sean McDermott during this time of uncertainty. Tomlin was the Steelers coach when linebacker Ryan Shazier suffered a career-ending spinal injury on the same field where Hamlin went into cardiac arrest Monday.

The Steelers and Bills have played each other twice since Hamlin was drafted by Buffalo in 2021. In the 38-3 win over Pittsburgh on Oct. 9, Hamlin recorded seven total tackles.

Tomlin said he's shared "a moment" with Hamlin during the two recent matchups.

"We played Buffalo each of the last two seasons, and we get to have a moment," he said. "It’s cool to not only appreciate these guys and where they are now, but to know them since they were younger people and watch their development, to watch them earn what they’ve been chasing is really a cool thing. He’s an example of that."

The Bills and the NFL world now await any updates regarding Hamlin's health status. He remains in critical condition in the ICU at University of Cincinnati Medical Center.

The league announced Tuesday that the Bills-Bengals game will not be played this week and there is no timetable for a potential rescheduling.

You can follow Zach Dimmitt on Twitter at @ZachDimmitt7

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