Damar Hamlin suffered a cardiac arrest during the game between the Buffalo Bills and the Bengals in Cincinnati on January 2.
(Pittsford) Tons of emotions raced through Damar Hamlin's mind as he donned his shoulder pads for his first Buffalo Bills camp practice on Monday, but the joy was the one that took over.
The marauder has been through a lot since he had to be resuscitated in the field following a cardiac arrest in January. He relied on his faith in God and in himself, then on the support of his family and teammates to progress towards a return to the game.
“It's just another step in my journey – maybe one of the most important,” Hamlin said after the session.
“I made the choice to play, but I have to juggle a thousand emotions. I'm not ashamed to say I'm a little scared at times, but my faith is stronger than fear. This is the message I want to convey. As long as your faith is stronger than your fear, you can go through anything. »
Although he was given the green light to return to practice in mid-April, Hamlin began practicing without contact, as required by NFL rules.
The magnitude of this new step with the shoulder pads did not escape Hamlin. It was the first time he had worn a full uniform since collapsing on the court in Cincinnati on Jan. 2 following a tackle that seemed unremarkable.
The normalcy of football hit him nearly an hour into the session. He took to the field for the first time on a practice in which tackles were still not allowed. On his second game, he surrounded Damien Harris with both arms without hesitation.
The biggest contact came on the final play. Hamlin dodged a block to get beyond the line of scrimmage where he helped a teammate stop Quintin Morris' progress. The tackle would have resulted in a loss of ground.
“This first little moment of contact was just to find out. I felt alive. I felt like I was here,” Hamlin rejoiced with a broad smile.
The 25-year-old from Pittsburgh will enter his third season in the NFL. Selected by the Bills in the sixth round in 2021, he started the last campaign as a reserve, before starting for 13 games when Micah Hyde suffered a neck injury.