Buffalo defensive back Damar Hamlin was in critical condition early Tuesday after the Bills say his heart stopped following a tackle during the Monday Night Football game, which was indefinitely postponed.
“Damar Hamlin suffered a cardiac arrest following a hit in our game versus the Bengals,” the Buffalo Bills organization said in a statement. “His heartbeat was restored on the field and he was transferred to the UC Medical Center for further testing and treatment. He is currently sedated and listed in critical condition.”
Video replays showed Hamlin make a hard tackle on Bengals receiver Tee Higgins with about 6:15 left in the game’s first quarter at Paycor Stadium in Cincinnati.
Hamlin, 24, was seen getting back to his feet after making the tackle and then almost immediately collapsing backward with the full force of his body coming down onto the turf.
An ambulance at the stadium hurriedly rushed to Hamlin while his teammates and opponents circled around him.
At one point, according to the game’s broadcast, paramedics administered CPR on the player and provided him with oxygen. Joe Buck, the game’s play-by-play announcer, described the CPR as taking place for “many minutes.”
He was eventually loaded into the ambulance and driven to an area hospital after remaining on the field for nearly ten minutes.
Jordon Rooney, a family representative who described himself as a good friend of the player, told ABC’s “Good Morning America” on Tuesday that Hamlin’s relatives are in good spirits but going through a lot and need their privacy. He declined to give details on Hamlin’s condition other than to say he is sedated.
“All I can say is he’s fighting; he’s a fighter,” Rooney said.
Players on both sidelines were visibly shaken, many in tears, as they watched their colleague be carted away. The game’s broadcast crews and analysts were equally stunned.
After the field was cleared, Bills head coach Sean McDermott and Bengals head coach Zac Taylor had a prolonged discussion with the game’s officiating crew.
After several minutes, both teams returned to their respective locker rooms. The game’s officiating crews said the game was temporarily suspended, while the game’s broadcast team said each team would have five minutes to regroup before returning to the field.
The stoppage, however, continued long past those five minutes, with neither team leaving their locker room.
Both coaches were seen meeting with officials for a second time in the stadium tunnel outside the Bills locker room.
For nearly an hour, it remained unclear if the game would go on as planned. Buck said the decision to continue the game would ultimately come down to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.
Just after 7 p.m., more than an hour after Hamlin went down on the field, the game’s broadcast team announced that play would be suspended for the rest of the evening.
Jeff Miller, an NFL executive vice president, told reporters on a conference call early Tuesday that the league had made no plans at this time to play the game, adding that Hamlin’s health was the main focus.
An ambulance was on the field four minutes after Hamlin collapsed while many players embraced, including quarterbacks Buffalo’s Josh Allen and Cincinnati’s Joe Burrow.
“Please pray for our brother,” Allen tweeted.
“I’ve never seen anything like it since I was playing,” NFL executive Troy Vincent, a six-time Pro Bowl cornerback during his career, said in the conference call early Tuesday. “Immediately, my player hat went on, like, how do you resume playing after seeing a traumatic event in front of you?”
Hamlin is a second-year pro with Buffalo after being selected in the 6th round of the 2021 NFL Draft out of the University of Pittsburgh.
He has played in every game of the 2022 season, including 13 starts for Buffalo, according to NFL.com.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.