Damar Hamlin fully participates in Bills practice

NFL: OCT 16 Bills at Chiefs
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Bills safety Damar Hamlin has taken another significant step on his path back to playing in an NFL game.

Hamlin was a full participant in Tuesday’s OTA practice session, which General Manager Brandon Beane said “was really important for him” as he continues to make his way back from going into cardiac arrest while making a tackle during a game late in the 2022 season.

“He’s worked really hard on the mental side of this. Physically, he’s all cleared but this is a real deal from a mental standpoint after you’ve been to where he was,” Beane said.

Beane said the team will “continue to ramp him up” during next week’s mandatory minicamp and said that the next “big hurdle” for Hamlin will come in training camp when the pads come on. Hamlin will have to make his first tackle since that night in Cincinnati and that’s part of the mental recovery that Beane discussed with reporters on Tuesday.

Damar Hamlin launches CPR Tour in Buffalo

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Bills safety Damar Hamlin‘s life was saved on January 2. His experience will save lives.

Hamlin is making sure of it.

Via Alaina Gatzenberg of ESPN.com, Hamlin launched his CPR Tour in Buffalo on Saturday. It is the first program for his Chasing M’s Foundation.

Hamlin distributed 50 AEDs to local youth football teams at the Bills’ Hands-Only CPR event. He will take his tour to multiple other cities, including Pittsburgh (where he’s from) and Cincinnati (where he suffered cardiac arrest during a game).

“The Chasing M’s Foundation will be giving AEDs to sports and community groups for kids to be safe while they are chasing their dreams,” Hamlin said. “And this program is very important, because it gives lifesaving care to kids in their own communities and on their fields.”

Hamlin’s foundation received millions in donations in the days following his the saving of his life by Bills medical staff during a game against the Bengals.

Even without donations from Hamlin and teams like the Saints and Packers of AEDs to youth sports groups, Hamlin’s experience will save lives. His situation has increased awareness regarding the use of CPR and AEDs for situations involving cardiac arrest.

And it already has saved a life, as recently evidenced by Rams defensive coordinator Raheem Morris having the presence of mind to ask for the AED when a three-year-old nearly drowned in a Las Vegas pool.

Rich McKay hope for “longer-term solution” that keeps kickoff in the game


The NFL’s current strategy for dealing with the most dangerous play in the game is to come up with ways for the play to happen less often, and to twist as many arms as needed to push the changes through. That’s not a viable solution, and the man in charge of the NFL’s Competition Committee seems to know it.

In an interview last week with Bruce Murray and Rick Spielman of SiriusXM NFL Radio, Rich McKay admitted that, despite the latest effort to reduce total kickoff returns, the goal remains keeping the kickoff in the game — and having more kickoffs returned.

McKay pointed out that the new fair catch rule is a one-year experiment only, giving the league the opportunity to come up with something else. This glosses over the fact that coaches traveled to the NFL Films facility in New Jersey between the March and May ownership meetings, in order to brainstorm ideas for making the play safer. McKay did not attend that session, and at least one person in attendance got the distinct impression that there was little interest in doing anything other than implementing the new rule.

McKay acknowledged that the original tweak to the kickoff rule (moving the point of the kickoff from the 30 to the 35) was aimed simply at having more touchbacks and fewer returns.

“We did that with the idea of — it wasn’t rocket science — it was just let’s get fewer returns,” McKay said. “Let’s bring the injury rate down, the concussion rate down.”

That same mindset surely fueled the decision to move the touchback point from the 20 to the 25, further incentivizing taking a knee and not returning a kick that makes it to the end zone. And, obviously, the new rule that allows a fair catch of a kick in the field of play to be placed at the 25 creates another reason to opt not to attempt a return.

Although McKay didn’t put it this way, the new rule is a direct result of the unintended consequences of moving the touchback point to the 25. Teams deliberately decided to kick short of the goal line, forcing a return with the idea of tackling the player short of the 25. And teams, as McKay put it, got better at forcing more returns that way.

McKay said that, after some of the earlier changes were made, the concussion rate for kickoff plays became similar to the concussion rate for scrimmage plays.

So it worked. Until it didn’t. Supposedly.

“In the last couple years, it spiked up pretty noticeably,” McKay said. “The reason it spiked up is the kickers are getting better. The ball is now being hung in the corners at the three yard line, and it’s creating more returns, more collisions, and more concussions.”

This assumes the data is accurate. As previously reported, the league claims 19 concussions happened on kickoff returns in 2022. Only eight were obviously linked via visual evidence to kick returns.

“The data is pretty clear about it,” McKay nevertheless insisted. “In this instance, they kept giving us that data and saying something has got to change with respect to this play. . . . We just felt like from a data standpoint this is something we needed to do.”

Some believe the urgency is false, that it was exaggerated to justify a solution to a problem that really wasn’t a problem.

So what’s the motivation here? There seems to be an obsession for some in the overall pro football hierarchy with the potential for liability arising not from concussions but from a catastrophic injury that could happen when players run at each other at top speed and collide. Such an injury also would create a massive P.R. blow for the sport, especially if there’s another Damar Hamlin situation with a far different outcome.

For now, the league’s way to minimize the risk is to marginalize the play. We’ll see if they come up with a long-term solution that results in more kickoffs and kick returns, or whether the play eventually will go the way of the drop kick, the single wing, and the flying wedge.

Raheem Morris helped save a child from drowning

NFL: SEP 08 Bills at Rams
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Raheem Morris played the part of superhero this weekend. The Rams defensive coordinator helped save a child from drowning in a Las Vegas pool.

Morris and his family were at the pool at the Encore Las Vegas when a young boy went under the water. The 3-year-old had no pulse when he was taken out of the pool by his father, Morris’ wife, Nicole, posted on her Instagram page Wednesday.

A lifeguard began CPR as Morris rushed over to help.

“I saw people calling 911, so my first question was, where is the AED?” Morris told ESPN.

Morris retrieved the automatic external defibrillator.

“When I got back, we had a doctor on site who was able to start the compressions,” Morris said. “I was able to hand the AED to him, get it open for him, put the pads on the child, and he ended up being OK.”

Morris credited the Rams’ recent CPR, AED and first aid training. Reggie Scott, the team’s vice president of sports medicine and performance, facilitated the session as part of league-wide training following Bills safety Damar Hamlin‘s cardiac arrest on the field last season.

Morris also mentioned the recent drowning of Bucs linebacker Shaq Barrett‘s 2-year-old daughter.

It has made the NFL family hyperaware of the importance of preparedness for the unforeseen.

Doctors in Las Vegas discharged the young boy from the hospital 24 hours after his near-drowning.

“I’m just thankful I knew what to do,” Morris said. “You just never know when you’re going to need that stuff.”

Report: Shannon Sharpe is leaving Undisputed

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When Skip Bayless left ESPN for FS1, Fox paired him with Hall of Fame tight end Shannon Sharpe. Sharpe is now leaving their morning show, Undisputed.

Via Ryan Glasspiegel of the New York Post, Sharpe and Fox Sports have reached a buyout that will result in Sharpe leaving the show and the network. His podcast, Club Shay Shay, also will be leaving Fox.

The reason isn’t clear. Glasspiegel mentions the friction that emerged between Sharpe and Bayless after the Damar Hamlin incident. Sharpe skipped the show the next morning, apparently as a protest to Bayless’s seemingly callous response to the situation. They squabbled about it when Sharpe returned.

More recently, Sharpes was sued by Hall of Famer Brett Favre for defamation, based on things Sharpe said about Favre during the show. Fox is not a defendant in the case.

It remains to be seen where the 54-year-old Sharpe, who played for the Broncos and Ravens, will land. He previously worked for CBS.

it also remains to be seen who FS1 will hire to replace Sharpe as the counter to Bayless.

Bills players take CPR, defibrillator training

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Last season, Bills safety Damar Hamlin‘s life was saved on the field thanks to the quick work of medical professionals who knew CPR and the proper use of a defibrillator. But you don’t have to be a medical professional to know how to save the life of someone who goes into cardiac arrest.

Learning CPR and the proper use of an automated external defibrillator is something that anyone can do, and can be a lifesaver in an emergency. As a result, Hamlin has been using his platform to promote CPR training, and Hamlin’s teammates stayed after Organized Team Activities to get training themselves.

Representatives of the Buffalo Black Nurses Association, University at Buffalo Medical Doctors, American Medical Response and the American Heart Association visited the Bills’ practice facility to train Bills players in CPR. Video posted by the Bills shows players including quarterback Josh Allen practicing chest compressions on a dummy and applying defibrillator pads on a dummy’s chest.

Hamlin has been advocating for nationwide CPR training and defibrillators at every school and every youth sporting event in the country, and the NFL has committed $1 million toward those efforts.

Damar Hamlin on the Bills’ practice field today, participating in individual drills

Tennessee Titans v Buffalo Bills
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Bills safety Damar Hamlin is continuing to work toward continuing his NFL career, after his heart stopped on the field during a game last season.

Hamlin was on the Bills’ practice field participating in individual drills during today’s Organized Team Activities.

Like other players recovering from injuries, Hamlin was not wearing a helmet and was not a full participant, but videos from reporters on the scene showed him hitting a sled and working on covering receivers, with no apparent limitations.

Bills General Manager Brandon Beane has said Hamlin has been fully cleared, so while the Bills are easing Hamlin into offseason work, from all indications they’re confident that he’ll be ready for full-contact practices and ready for games when the season starts.

Damar Hamlin wins PFWA’s George Halas Award

NFL: SEP 25 Bills at Dolphins
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The Pro Football Writers of America honored Bills safety Damar Hamlin on Monday, naming him the 55th winner of the George Halas Award.

The Halas Award is given to an NFL player, coach or staff member who overcomes the most adversity to succeed. Ryan Shazier (2019), Travis Frederick (2020), Alex Smith (2021) and Ron Rivera (2022) are recent winners of the award.

Hamlin went into cardiac arrest on the field during a Jan. 2 game at Cincinnati, with Bills assistant athletic trainer Denny Kellington performing life-saving CPR on Hamlin. Hamlin was diagnosed with Commotio Cordis, which is caused by getting hit in the chest at the wrong moment in the heart rhythm.

Doctors have fully cleared him to return to football activities.

Giants running back Saquon Barkley, 49ers/Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey, Commanders running back Brian Robinson Jr. and Seahawks quarterback Geno Smith were the other finalists for the 2023 Halas Award.

Kevin Everett (2008) is the only other member of the Bills’ organization ever to win the award.

Damar Hamlin says his charity has big plans for the millions in donations he received

Buffalo Bills Damar Hamlin
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In the days after Bills safety Damar Hamlin collapsed on the field and had to be resuscitated in front of a national television audience, fans across the country wanted to help and donated $10 million. Hamlin says he has been working on the right way to put that money for a good cause, and that his own nonprofit will work toward that effort.

Hamlin told the Associated Press that what was previously a small organization he set up when he was still a college football player, the Chasing M’s Foundation, will use the money to improve the lives of young people.

“We have been very deliberate and intentional about taking our time to set my charity up properly,” Hamlin said. “I’m excited to begin sharing news about programs we are creating to impact a generation of youth and give back to others.”

Fans donated more than $9.1 million to a GoFundMe campaign for a community toy drive Hamlin organized, and almost $1 million to a fundraiser set up by The Giving Back Fund, a nonprofit that helps athletes with charitable giving. GoFundMe has confirmed that it still has the money. The Giving Back Fund has been the subject of scrutiny recently, but Hamlin said he is confident that none of the issues facing that organization will affect his nonprofit.

Hamlin is also working with the American Heart Association on a campaign to spread awareness of how to perform CPR.

Tee Higgins, Damar Hamlin spending offseason time together

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Bills safety Damar Hamlin collapsed and went into cardiac arrest after tackling Bengals receiver Tee Higgins in December, in one of the most frightening sights ever seen on an NFL field. Now Hamlin and Higgins are together under much better circumstances.

Via the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle, Bengals wide receiver Tyler Boyd posted a picture on Instagram showing himself along with Hamlin and Higgins, plus Bengals wide receiver Ja'Marr Chase, relaxing with some off-road vehicles.

Higgins has said he “wasn’t in a good place” mentally after seeing Hamlin collapse on the field. Bills quarterback Josh Allen said at the team’s first press conference after that game that everyone in the Bills’ locker room supported Higgins and in no way held him responsible.

Hamlin has been given full medical clearance to play this season and has said that he’s looking forward to getting back on the field and playing in the NFL again.

FMIA: Peter King’s Mock Draft


“I do this for a living, and my mock draft will be no more accurate than yours. We all think that we know, but we really don’t.”–One NFL GM in a text to me last week.I would disagree with this executive. I don’t think I know. Actually, I know I don’t know.Let me tell you [more]

Damar Hamlin: Last year’s event was life-changing, but not the end of my story

NFL: SEP 25 Bills at Dolphins
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Shortly after Bills General Manager Brandon Beane announced that safety Damar Hamlin has been fully cleared to return to action after last year’s on-field cardiac arrest, Hamlin took the podium for a press conference of his own.

Hamlin confirmed that he has been given the green light to resume his football career by doctors and that he will be doing so this season.

“This event was life-changing, but it’s not the end of my story,” Hamlin said. “I’m here to announce that I plan on making a comeback to the NFL.”

Hamlin confirmed that he was diagnosed with Commotio Cordis, which is usually caused by someone getting hit in the chest at the wrong moment in their heart rhythm. The quick response to Hamlin’s collapse by medical personnel in Cincinnati saved his life and Hamlin said he will continue to be an advocate for CPR training and defibrillator availability.

Hamlin said that there is a lot of work to do physically and mentally to prepare for getting back on the field, but added that he likes his chances of doing so given odds that he’s already beaten in his life.

Brandon Beane: Damar Hamlin is fully cleared

Buffalo Bills Damar Hamlin
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Late last month, Bills safety Damar Hamlin was asked by President Joe Biden if he would play again. Hamlin told Biden, “I think so. … God willing.”

Hamlin is now in a position to make that a reality.

In a Tuesday press conference, Bills General Manager Brandon Beane said that Hamlin is in the building as the club begins its offseason program and has been “fully cleared” after seeing three specialists.

”They’re all in agreement — it’s not two to one or three to one or anything like that — they’re all in lockstep of what this was and that he is cleared to resume full activities just like anyone else that was coming back from an injury,” Beane said. “He’s fully cleared. He’s here. And he is of the mindset — he’s in a great headspace — to come back and make his return.”

Hamlin has made remarkable progress since suffering cardiac arrest on the field in Cincinnati in January and this is one more step in a positive direction.

There is still plenty of time between now and September, but Hamlin being cleared to work out and participate in the offseason program is a testament to all those who worked to save his life.

Damar Hamlin joins Panthers for AED, CPR training and education courses

Buffalo Bills Damar Hamlin
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Players rarely take part in events at team facilities other than their own, but Bills safety Damar Hamlin teamed up with the Panthers for an event on Monday.

The NFL joined several other organizations, including Hamlin’s foundation, in starting The Smart Heart Sports Coalition earlier this year. The goal of the group is to improve nationwide CPR education and automated external defibrillator (AED) access in the wake of their role in saving Hamlin’s life after he went into cardiac arrest during a game late last season.

On Monday, the Panthers hosted CPR and AED training and education courses for employees of Tepper Sports Entertainment, players on the Panthers roster, and season-ticket holders. Panthers co-owner Nicole Tepper said the experiences of Hamlin and Bills co-owner Kim Pegula, who was also saved after a cardiac arrest, inspired her to host the event.

“Once I saw Nicole at the Super Bowl, telling me about the event, [the] first thing I said was, ‘I’ll be there,'” Hamlin said, via Augusta Stone of the team’s website. “As you can see, anywhere I can [go], everywhere around the world, I just want to keep raising awareness and trying to get as many people that we can CPR certified. Because you never know when you can be that hero.”

In addition to the training, the David and Nicole Tepper Foundation made a donation to the American Heart Association to support further efforts to spread the availability and awareness of life-saving measures.

FMIA: What the First Four Teams Will Do on Draft Night and Owners Challenging Goodell

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I see by the calendar it’s Draft Month, T-minus 24 days from teams getting to open their offseason presents. Since the four marquee players—the first-round quarterbacks—have finished their Pro Days following the Anthony Richardson workout Thursday in Gainesville, I thought I’d tell you how the very top of the draft board stands from what I [more]