Damar Hamlin on a lesson of the past year: 'Trust what you know and trust what got you here'

Updated Feb. 8, 2024 10:58 p.m. ET

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Damar Hamlin learned a lot about himself over the past year. That's no surprise after his near-death experience on the field about 13 months ago.

Hamlin spoke for a few minutes Thursday on a platform overlooking radio row at this year's Super Bowl. It was easy to take in the enormity of the event from that vantage point, and Hamlin — there with fellow Buffalo Bills defensive back Dane Jackson — reflected a bit.

“To give everybody some more perspective, I would just say, trust what you know and trust what got you here," Hamlin said. "Along the journey of the ups and downs, I had my own, he had his own, and we was able to keep each other, hold each other accountable to what got us there in the moment.”

Hamlin and Jackson have been teammates not only with the Bills but also in college at Pittsburgh. Both are from the Pittsburgh area. Hamlin was at last year's Super Bowl too — in a suite with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.


His story is no longer front and center in quite that way, and he said he’s pretty relaxed this week.

“I’ve been enjoying it a lot. I’m seeing players all across the league," he said. "It’s not too often that we all get to get together and see each other outside of having to perform, where you’ve got to be in your own zone.”

Hamlin went into cardiac arrest during a game at Cincinnati on Jan 2, 2023. He needed to be resuscitated and the game was called off. Hamlin played in five games this season, plus both of Buffalo’s postseason matchups. He actually carried the ball in the divisional round against Kansas City on an ill-fated fake punt that was stopped.

He was the runner-up for Comeback Player of the Year, which speaks to the impact his health ordeal had. Hamlin actually received the most first-place votes but had fewer points than winner Joe Flacco.

The football world took a keen interest in Hamlin's comeback. He leads the Chasing M's Foundation, which is dedicated to the health and safety of young people through sports. He's hoping kids across the country can have access to the life-saving care he did.

“People donated to show support and show love. They seen that I was a young kid who cared about other people and I cared about giving back," Hamlin said. "Everyone had a hand in wanting to give me the ability to be able to do that on a bigger scale.”

After this Super Bowl comes another offseason. For Jackson, that means going with the flow.

“I don't really like planning too many things," Jackson said. "I'm the type of guy, I might change my mind at the last minute.”

Hamlin, however, sounds focused — not just on the next few months, but on the long term. He was able to return to the field, but he also, quite understandably, understands there's more to life than football.

“I'm trying to handle business. I'm trying to take care of all opportunities that I can," he said. "I'm trying to capitalize on all business opportunities. I want to make sure I'm setting myself up for the future.”


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