UPDATE (1/6/2023): The Buffalo Bills have announced that Damar Hamlin’s breathing tube has been taken out and is able to talk to his family and his care team.

ORIGINAL STORY:

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (WROC) — Bills head coach Sean McDermott and select players held an emotional press conference Thursday afternoon surrounding safety Damar Hamlin. It was the first time the team met with the media since Hamlin collapsed and went into cardiac arrest during Monday night’s game against the Bengals in Cincinnati.

UC Medical Center officials said Hamlin woke up Thursday morning and that his neurological condition is intact. Doctors added that Hamlin is still critically ill and is still undergoing intensive care.

“It’s something that we’ll never forget, but to know that Damar is doing okay,” said quarterback Josh Allen. “I know they’re a lot of things and stuff that he has to process and continue to go through to get back to himself.”

Allen stated once they heard the encouraging news this morning, nothing anyone told the team would’ve brought their day down.

“It’s a huge relief,” said childhood friend of Hamlin and Bills cornerback Dane Jackson. “I think the worst part about everything is the unknown. Just as a player and that being our brother and him being so close, you’re just wondering is he going to be alright in the end. Once we got updates, once we got feedback, it started to make us feel better for sure.”

Bills center Mitch Morse added that the biggest thing was hearing how Hamlin’s progressed from his family.

“To say (it put) a smile on our faces would be an understatement,” said Morse. “We were elated as you possibly could be as a team. It was a really cool moment.”

Allen commended McDermott and his leadership for his handling of the scary scene Monday night.

“The way he handled it, he was the perfect man in that situation to handle that,” said Allen. “That type of situation, I can’t say enough about what he did, what he said to us in the locker room. Obviously, just a dire circumstance that nobody’s expecting, nobody’s ready for. There’s nothing that you can train about. You can never put yourself in that situation until it happens.”

McDermott discussed the importance of mental health, and said getting help isn’t a sign of weakness.

“Mental health is real,” said McDermott. “The job description of a coach is not just coaching the X’s and O’s. It’s much more than that. To me the health and well being of your staff and players is the number one job of a coach in this situation that includes mental health.”

Damar Hamlin’s father, Mario, spoke to the team Wednesday night and relayed words of encouragement to the Bills.

“Really his message was the team needs to get back to focusing the goals on the they set for themselves,” said McDermott. “Damar would have wanted it that way. I’m paraphrasing a bit. That includes our game against New England this week and that has helped.”

Allen said that this Sunday’s game against the Patriots will be different for every player.

“I’d be lying to you if I didn’t say some people are going to be changed forever after being on the field and witnessing that and feeling those emotions,” said Allen.

The Bills are slated to play the Patriots at 1pm at Highmark Stadium.