Winter 2022

Bills coach Sean McDermott on Damar Hamlin's improvement: 'Glory to God'

This week the sports world has held its collective breath as it awaits news on the recovery of Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin, who went into cardiac arrest and collapsed on Monday night against the Cincinnati Bengals.

Since the incident, thousands of people have lifted up prayers for Hamlin and his family and donated millions of dollars to his community toy drive.

As of Friday morning, Hamlin’s situation had improved to the point where his breathing tube was removed. “He continues to progress remarkably in his recovery,” the Bills announced. “His neurologic function remains intact and he has been able to talk to his family and care team.”

He even FaceTimed into the team meeting Friday to talk to players and coaches. “Love you boys,” Hamlin told the team.

“Glory to God for His keeping Damar and his family in the palm of His hand over the last couple of days and His healing powers,” Bills head coach Sean McDermott said in a press conference Thursday.

McDermott gave praise to, among many others, the first responders, officiating crew, the Bills and Bengals medical teams, and the doctors and nurses at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center, where Hamlin has been in intensive care since Monday. He also said the “faith, hope and love that have been displayed over the last three days has been nothing short of amazing.”

McDermott was overcome with emotion when speaking about Hamlin on Thursday. He said quarterback Josh Allen shared with him something that Hamlin’s family planned to show him when he wakes up — a collection of social media posts of people praying for him and wishing him well.

“It’s amazing to know the impact that this has had on so many people,” McDermott said. “And for Damar to be awake and his mom to be able to share that with him is incredible.”

McDermott has been the head coach in Buffalo since 2017. Though this was his first head coaching job, he’s helped establish the Bills as a perennial power, taking them to the playoffs in all but one year since he took over, after they were left out every year from 2000-2016. He’s helped lead the Bills to back-to-back AFC East division titles, and they’re in position to do so again in 2022-23.

In January 2021, he coached the Bills to their first postseason victory since 1995.

“I just want to praise God for this afternoon and this day; what a beautiful day in Orchard Park, New York,” he said following the win. “To Him be all the glory.”

In his tenure, McDermott has not shied away from speaking about his faith. The reason he’s in Buffalo, he says, is God. He discussed God’s plan in May 2020 during a live video chat with “FCA Sports Talk.”

“I believe that God’s plan prevails, and God had a plan. He ordained this to happen for me to come to Buffalo with my family,” McDermott said. “I mean, fit is important, right? This is a blue jeans, work boots style community, and that’s me, that’s how I grew up. And so God had this plan, and He had it planned since I was born, to bring me here and my family for a reason. I still, at the end of the day, am waiting to see, as we continue to move forward, His plan continue to unfold for us in Buffalo. … I just know God’s in control.”

He shared a similar sentiment upon clinching a playoff berth in January 2018, not knowing what would unfold in the middle of a game in January 2023.

“You know what? I’m a firm believer in faith and I know God brought me here for a reason,” McDermott said. “He brought this group of men together for a reason, so that’s what I fall back on in times like this.”

The Bills returned to practice on Thursday ahead of their scheduled Week 18 game against the New England Patriots on Sunday. McDermott was asked how he and his team will be able to overcome what they’ve just gone through and go out and play a game. He said his faith in God is what he’ll lean on.

“I’m a Christian man to begin with, and I’m not afraid to say that,” he said in Thursday’s press conference. “I know that when you’re trying to do good things or great things, sometimes you come across opposition. I’ll leave that part of it there. How do I know that we’ll be able to overcome? We have to, just like we’ve done many times before in this city. The people of Western New York, what they’ve dealt with, that’s what you do.”

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