Brandon Staley, Chargers Players Pay Tribute to Bills’ Damar Hamlin

Chargers coaches and players show support for Bills safety Damar Hamlin.

COSTA MESA – When Bills safety Damar Hamlin required immediate medical attention after collapsing on the field that called for nine minutes of CPR Monday night at Paycor Stadium, it sent a panic across the NFL community.

Hamlin, a 24-year-old, was rushed to the University of Cincinnati Medical Center after suffering cardiac arrest on the field. He remains in the ICU in critical condition with signs of improvement noted yesterday and overnight, the Bills organization said.

An outpouring amount of support from fans, players, coaches and others, have sent donations to Hamlin’s Community Toy Drive. Hamlin, who set a goal of raising $2,500, has received over $6 million in donations.

“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 Hamlin family said in a statement. “We are deeply moved by the prayers, kind words and donations from fans across 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. We feel so blessed to be part of the Buffalo Bills organization and to have their support. We also want to thank coach Taylor and the Bengals for everything they’ve done. Your generosity means the world to us. Please keep Damar in your prayers.”

The Chargers organization, from coaches to players, have felt the incident involving Hamlin, hit close to home. 

Chargers coach Brandon Staley recruited Hamlin when he was 15-years-old at Pittsburgh Central Catholic High School. Chargers defensive coordinator Renaldo Hill and wide receivers coach Chris Beatty coached Hamlin in college at the University of Pittsburgh.

“I have a relationship, going back to when I was at John Carroll and James Madison, with Damar’s high school team,” Staley said. “I know his head coach, Terry Totten, really well. This is a great kid. This guy is one of the best players to ever play at Central. He was an incredible player at Pitt. It was a little bit more personal because you know this guy, you know his teammates.”

Staley further offered his support to everyone at the game Monday night and to all of the football community.

“From our organization to the Bills, we send all of our prayers, our deepest prayers, to Damar and his family, the Bills players, the Bengals, and everyone that’s involved in pro football,” he said.

The Chargers, in praying for the well-being of Hamlin and coping with the mental health of their own players, spoke to team physician Dr. Eugene Yim and team chaplain George Gregory on Wednesday.

Staley said he wanted his players to understand what transpired on the field from a medical perspective.

“The Chargers did such a great job today,” Sebastian Joseph-Day said of the services made available for players during this difficult time. “Coach brought in Dr. Yim to explain to us the situation of what exactly happened, and how rare that situation is. Dr. Yim described it, if I’m saying it correctly, like being struck by lightning. The chances of that happening is so minute and it was just a freak accident. Learning about it, talking about it with your brothers and just praying for Damar.”

Chargers tight end Donald Parham Jr., who was taken off the field in an ambulance last season in Week 14 against the Chiefs after hitting his head on the turf at SoFi Stadium, said it was emotional watching Hamlin’s incident unfold.

“It was very confusing, just to collect my emotions and know how I felt,” Parham said. “I caught myself feeling like ‘dang, that was me last year out on the field feeling kind of hopeless.’ We have faith that he will be back and be healthier than ever, but it was crazy overall.”

Parham said it’s comforting knowing the type of medical workers the NFL has on hand for games who are able to address emergencies in such a quick manner.

“Seconds matter in that kind of thing,” Parham said. “It’s really important that people are out there, they’re quick about it and they take the right steps to him being better.”

The Chargers held a walk-through on Wednesday to start the week. They’ll hold their first practice on Thursday in which Staley says will be a balance between preparing for the Broncos and carrying with them thoughts and prayers for Hamlin.

“I think that you have to have the right amount of perspective and the right amount of focus in both places,” Staley said on the transition for getting ready for Sunday’s game. “I think that you do that by knowing your players, by knowing your guys. I think that’s why you have to have close football teams and close football organizations, so that you kind of know what that right touch is.”

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