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Notebook: Bills' Damar Hamlin on mind of Giants


EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – The Giants began preparing here today for their regular-season finale Sunday in Philadelphia, but a piece of the heart, mind and soul of every player and coach was with Damar Hamlin in Cincinnati.

Hamlin, the Buffalo Bills' second-year safety, has been in the intensive care unit of the University of Cincinnati Medical Center since Monday night, when he went into cardiac arrest on the field after making a tackle in the first quarter of his team's game against the Bengals. He remains in critical condition, but the Bills announced today Hamlin has shown "signs of improvement."

The many Giants who personally know Hamlin, those who've never met him, and the larger NFL community have been offering their support to him and those with whom he is connected.

Brian Daboll's final season as Buffalo's offensive coordinator in 2021 was Hamlin's rookie year with the team. Daboll opened his news conference today with an emotional statement about Hamlin.

"On behalf of our organization, myself, (general manager) Joe (Schoen), the players, some of the coaches, some of the staff members – a lot of us have been around Damar," Daboll said. "We offer our prayers to him, his family, to the people in that organization. They've been through a lot, and this is tragic. It's tragic to see. I feel for Damar most importantly, his family, but all the players and coaches that are around him every day. He's a tremendous young man, and just pray for recovery. That was tough." 

Wide receiver Isaiah Hodgins was Hamlin's teammate last year and earlier this season. Center Jon Feliciano, quarterbacks Tyrod Taylor and Davis Webb, center Jon Feliciano, running back Matt Breida and cornerback Nick McCloud are also former Bills who were with Hamlin. Safety Jason Pinnock was his teammate at the University of Pittsburgh. Quarterbacks coach Shea Tierney, offensive line coach Bobby Johnson, and director of coaching operations Laura Young were all in Buffalo last season.

Daboll, Schoen and Young all wore Giants caps with a 3 – Hamlin's number – affixed to the front. The coach has spoken with former colleagues on the Bills.

"I've talked to, I would say, a number of people," Daboll said. "I'm not going to get into everybody I talked to, but I've talked to a lot of people there. Just offered my support, not that I can do much. Those people, I'd say, mean a lot. I don't want to speak for Joe, but I know it does. They mean a lot to both of us. I know there's a lot of people in the building, the players, the staff, the trainers – thank God for them – you build relationships. Being there for four years, I have a ton of respect for the people in that building. Just really a call for support.

"I think, again, not having been through a situation like this, you try to do the best you can to be there as a friend, as a mentor, as a former coach. Just be there for them."

The Giants began their workday with an untraditional team meeting at which Sr. VP of Medical Services Ronnie Barnes, team psychologist Dr. Lani Lawrence and team chaplain Gian Paul Gonzalez all spoke. Gonzalez led the team in prayer.

"I'll leave what we said private," Daboll said. "But that was tough. … It's been difficult the last couple days. This is a relationship business, and when something like that happens to people that mean a lot to you – or even if you don't know them, you have just a great amount of respect for (them) – it really doesn't matter what job you do. But having been around the young man, I know him. I know the type of person he is. Yeah, it's tough." 

Football is a high-speed contact sport in which the threat of injury exists on every play. When a life-threatening event occurs on the field, it shakes everyone to their core. Daboll was asked how he is working through that with his players – and himself.

"I think that's why we had the meeting that we had," he said. "One meeting is never just going to do it. But I think you hire a bunch of competent people that are there for the players and any support system that they need. And that's our job, and that's why we hire who we hire."

The NFL announced the Bills-Bengals game will not be concluded this week and it might never be. Week 18 will go on as scheduled, but some uncertainty remains about what lies ahead.

"I just think we go about our business and have a normal week," Daboll said. "But again, I'd be remiss, that was heavy on my heart, and I thought it was the right thing to do for our players and for our organization. I'd say Joe was on the same page with that. So, that was what was most important this morning." 

Hamlin's foundation's Go Fund Me – which had an original goal of raising $2,500 – has received more than $6.6 million in donations since Monday night.

"Amazing," Daboll said. "Just the support for that young man has been incredible. And that's a testament to everybody around the country that watched it, or maybe heard about it or saw it."

And continue to feel for Damar Hamlin and pray for his recovery.

View photos from practice as the Giants get ready for their regular-season finale against the Philadelphia Eagles.


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