Monday Night Football is back, but maybe not for Damar Hamlin.
The Buffalo Bills safety is not expected to play in the team’s season opener against the New York Jets on Monday, September 11, according to multiple reports.
Monday could have marked the 25-year-old athlete’s first regular season appearance since going into cardiac arrest on January 2 during a game against the Cincinnati Bengals. Hamlin collapsed minutes into the game’s first quarter after tackling Bengals wide receiver Tee Higgins and suffering a blow to the chest. He required CPR and his heartbeat was “restored on the field,” according to the Bills.
The medical emergency resulted in the game being canceled and many were not sure that the safety would come back to the sport again. But Hamlin was physically cleared to return to football in the spring, completing his first practice on June 6 and playing in the team’s three preseason games.
ESPN called the decision for Hamlin not to play in the season opener “not surprising” as he is currently listed as a backup safety and special teams contributor. Hamlin started in 13 games last season after teammate Micah Hyde suffered a neck injury and couldn’t compete. Hamlin joined the Bills in 2021 as the team’s sixth-round pick.
“You can never take it for granted,” Hamlin said last week at a charity event regarding his spot on the Bills’ roster. “Every year, so many people who don’t get the opportunity to make the team that you have to show respect for it when you do and you can never take it for granted because, the NFL, they say it stands for not for long. So, to be able to go through my situation and then be able to come back and still show that I can still do it is super big and it means a lot to me and my family.”
The news that Hamlin is not expected to return to the field during the season opener coincides with an announcement that a documentary on the NFL player is in production. “Did We Win” – fittingly titled after Hamlin asked about the outcome of the game against the Bengals when awakened from a medically induced sedation – is set to chronicle his road to recovery and advocacy work.
The highly-anticipated game will be Aaron Rodgers’ first one suited up as quarterback for the New York Jets. It will kick off at 8:15 p.m. ET.