As the sports world celebrates its collective relief that Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin is improving after his on-field collapse on Monday night, the other player involved in the hit that preceded his cardiac arrest, Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Tee Higgins, has made his first comments on the incident. Higgins and Hamlin collided in a hard hit, after which Hamlin got up like normal, then instantly collapsed. It was later revealed that he had a cardiac arrest on the field. Almost every NFL analyst and reasonable fan will tell you this was just a regular football play and there was nothing illegal or dirty about it. The receiver explained his state of mind in the days following Hamlin’s collapse to reporters during a media session in the Bengals locker room on Thursday.
“Obviously it’s been hard, just because you know I had something to do with the play,” Higgins said. “Everyone has been making me feel whole again. I talked to his mom and everything is OK, he’s doing good, so I’m in a good place right now.”
The Bills released a statement on Thursday saying that Damar was making “remarkable improvement” and “he appears to be neurologically intact.” Per Yahoo Sports, his doctors at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center also held a press conference on Thursday where they revealed that Hamlin has made “substantial improvement in his condition over the past 24 hours.” Though they stressed that he “still has significant progress he needs to make,” he’s responding to commands and is communicating with a pen and paper, as he’s still on a breathing tube. This positive update combined with speaking with Damar’s mother has helped Higgins deal with his feelings about the hit and its aftermath.
“Suddenly she’s telling me that he’s OK. And just all the positive stuff,” Higgins said. “I mean it feels good just knowing that he’s OK, he’s doing better, and it makes me feel better inside...Everyone has been making me feel whole again. I talked to his mom and everything is OK, he’s doing good, so I’m in a good place right now.”
On Thursday, during a Bills press conference with head coach Sean McDermott, Buffalo quarterback Josh Allen also sent positive thoughts to Higgins, letting him know that no one blames him for what happened.
“I do want to say one more thing: I haven’t reached out to Tee. I hope that he got some relief today. I saw some stuff on Twitter. And people should not be attacking him whatsoever,” Allen said, per ESPN. “And I’m glad that Damar’s family came out and said that. And hopefully, he found some relief today. Because that’s a football play. And I hope that he doesn’t hold that upon himself because there’s nothing else that he could have done in that situation.’’
The most important thing in all this is that Damar Hamlin seems to be on the right path to recovery. However, it’s also essential that we lift up and take care of Tee Higgins at this moment because his trauma isn’t visible. He needs to know that we support him and have his back just as much, because none of this is his fault any more than it’s Damar’s.