The Buffalo Bills hosted an emotional news conference Thursday featuring quarterback Josh Allen and head coach Sean McDermott, who both assured reporters that the team is ready to play again after safety Damar Hamlin collapsed on the field Monday night.
When asked if they think the team is ready to play after such a traumatic moment, McDermott said, "I'll start.” Before he was able to do so, Josh Allen interrupted to say, "I do."
“I do as well,” McDermott added.
"We want to go out there and play for 3. It'll be a huge driving force,” Allen said of Hamlin.
The safety’s jersey sales have skyrocketed since Monday. “I expect to see a lot of 3 jerseys and 3 signs,” Allen said. “Obviously, it’ll be a little surreal.”
McDermott explained that Hamlin’s father was in contact with the team Wednesday and gave them his perspective.
“Really his message was, 'The team needs to get back to focusing on the goals they had set for themselves. Damar would have wanted it that way.’ So that includes our game against New England this week,” McDermott said.
McDermott and Allen agreed that the push from Hamlin’s father is more impactful when paired with Thursday’s updates from Hamlin’s doctors at University of Cincinnati Medical Center.
They said they have seen "substantial improvement in his condition over the past 24 hours,” and he has opened his eyes and has been moving his hands and feet. They added that his "neurological condition and function is intact," and he's "beginning to awaken."
The doctors commended the training staff’s speed in assessing and resuscitating Hamlin on the field, a sentiment Allen extended as well. “I want to thank our training staff. Our training staff saved his life,” he said. “You lose sleep, you hurt for your brother, but getting positive updates eases so much of that pain and tension that you feel.”
'Mental health is real'
Allen and McDermott both became emotional at points during the nearly hourlong conference. McDermott told reporters that the team has been offered counseling and other resources because “mental health is real.”
Allen illustrated the traumatic nature of the event, noting that some of his teammates will be “changed forever” from seeing what they did.
“The scene just replays over and over in your head,” Allen said. “It's something that we'll never forget.”
Still, Allen said the team finds motivation in hopefully seeing Hamlin again soon. “We just want to love up on him the next chance we get,” Allen said. “I don’t know when it’s going to be, but if we get to see him again anytime soon, it’s going to be awesome."