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Damar Hamlin has long dreamed of playing in the NFL, so he said he would still be happy when he was drafted by the Buffalo Bills in 2021, even if his only contribution was as a water boy. .
A scout report on the University of Pittsburgh star defensive back said he has good instincts and a nose on the ball, but is small in size and perhaps a little slow.
As a result, Hamlin fell to the sixth round, and the Bills drafted him 212th overall.
Hamlin didn’t mind.
“I’m going to do whatever it takes to be a contributor to the team. I don’t care if I have to hand out water at halftime,” he told reporters after the draft. “I want to do it no matter what. I have no pride.”
Hamlin, 24, has started 13 games for the Bills this season. That includes Monday night’s tragic game against Cincinnati’s Bengals. He remains in the ICU at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center, team officials said.
Until Monday, the 2022 season has been a bittersweet road for Hamlin, filled with both once-in-a-lifetime opportunities and uncomfortable memories that remind him of the perils of football.
In an interview with Bills media last fall, Hamlin said, “It’s so surreal. Words can’t describe it. But I make every second of every day as important as possible.”
In his first season, Hamlin didn’t see the field much. Bills’ depth chart was filled with Pro Bowl-class defensive his backs like Tre’Davious White and Micah Hyde.
But Hamlin took it positively, he said later.
“Me and my family, we all thought it was a great opportunity to come here and learn. And they may not be ready for the moment, so they may burn the wick short.”
Instead, his chance will come in 2022.
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Two injuries sidelined teammates but made way for Hamlin
Another Bills player was injured and carried off the field in an ambulance before Hamlin collapsed in Monday night’s game.
That was in September when cornerback Dane Jackson received a horrific blow to the head and neck during a tackle in a game against the Tennessee Titans.
Hamlin and Jackson have known each other since childhood and refer to each other as brothers. They played together for years at the University of Pittsburgh. When Hamlin was drafted by the Bills, he called reuniting with his friend “a dream come true.”
Hamlin saw Jackson lying on the field and receiving medical attention before being put on a stretcher and ejected.
Another Bills defensive back, Micah Hyde, was injured late in the same game. He put on his helmet and played it safe for most of the rest of the game.
In the locker room afterwards, Hamlin told reporters that it was “really tough” to get to the game so quickly after seeing his friend need medical attention. Because life is bigger than football,” he said.
Jackson was later diagnosed with a minor neck injury and was cleared to play in October. However, Hyde was ruled out for the season and Hamlin has started every game for the Bills since.
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“I cherish every second as much as possible”
Hamlin then appeared to use every opportunity to count blessings, even with tackles, playing minutes and attention from fans and media.
Asked by a Bills reporter in November if there were any feelings between him and Jackson over the events of the season so far, Hamlin replied, “Honestly, it’s every day.”
“Even just walking in the building first thing in the morning leaves me feeling sleepy and not feeling well for the day,” he and Jackson said, building each other up and reminding each other of “where we are.” wanted to be in the very moment it wanted it. ”
Hamlin said it was “the greatest blessing” to have the opportunity to play in the NFL and to play alongside Jackson, who suffered a horrific injury in September.
Earlier that month, Hamlin said the Bills’ defense team joined hands in a weekly group prayer.
“Since I don’t know when the last day I’ll be going through something like this will be, I held his hand a little tighter.