Damar Hamlin continues to make remarkable progress in his recovery just four days after his heart stopped during Monday night’s game against the Bengals.
Hamlin, the second-year safety for the Buffalo Bills, had his breathing tube removed overnight at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center, the team announced Friday morning.
“He continues to progress remarkably in his recovery,” the Bills said in the statement.
“His neurologic function remains intact and he has been able to talk to his family and care team.”
The Bills also announced that Hamlin was able to FaceTime with his teammates during Friday morning’s team meeting.
He told his team: “ Love you boys.”
“I probably won’t be able to do it justice,” Bills coach Sean McDermott told reporters Friday, “but just to see Damar, No. 1, through my own eyes, it was something I was hoping to see and kind of something I needed to see … and to see the players’ reaction, they stood up right away and started clapping for him and yelling some things.”
Friday’s positive update comes after doctors revealed Thursday that Hamlin woke up on Wednesday night and wrote out “Did we win?”
“Yes, Damar, you won. You won the game of life,” the nurse responded, according to the UCMC doctors who spoke with the media on Thursday.
At that point the 24-year-old football star was still listed in critical condition in the intensive care unit with a breathing tube down his throat.
There was no official update on his condition as of Friday morning.
Hamlin went into cardiac arrest after making a first-quarter tackle on Bengals receiver Tee Higgins during Monday Night Football at Cincinnati’s Paycor Stadium.
Bills assistant athletic trainer Denny Kellington administered CPR on the field and got Hamlin’s heart beating again after “prompt recognition of loss of pulse” before he was rushed to the hospital.
“Denny is an assistant trainer,” McDermott said Thursday in his first public comments following Monday’s tragic scene. “For an assistant to find himself at that position and needing to take the action he did and step up and take charge … is nothing short of amazing. And the courage that took. You talk about a real leader and a real hero saving Damar’s life.
“I admire his strength.”
McDermott also revealed that Hamlin’s father, Mario, told the team on Wednesday that his son would want the team to return their focus to Sunday’s game against the New England Patriots.
“His message was the team needs to get back to focusing on the goals they set for themselves,” McDermott said. “Damar would have wanted it that way. That includes our game against New England. And the news today was a big help in getting us back to focus on the game this weekend.”
“To know that’s what he wants, that’s what his dad wants. I think guys are excited to get out there,” Bills quarterback Josh Allen told reporters.
The Bills, still in contention for the top seed in the AFC playoffs, are scheduled to host the Patriots on Sunday at 1 p.m. ET at Highmark Stadium.
The NFL announced that the league will not resume the Bills-Bengals game that was suspended after Hamlin collapsed.
“Not playing the Buffalo-Cincinnati game to its conclusion will have no effect on which clubs qualify for the postseason.”
The NFL announced a series of league-wide “activations” on Friday to show support for Hamlin in his recovery.
The league said that all teams are encouraged to read a pregame moment of support before the playing of the national anthem, teams will be able to outline the “3″ in each 30-yard line number of the field in either Bills red or blue, and all players will have the option of wearing “Love for Damar 3″ T-shirts during warm-ups.
The Bills will also wear Hamlin’s No. 3 on jersey patches during their Week 18 game.
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