American Football: Stricken Buffalo Bills defender Damar Hamlin attends team meeting from hospital

Damar Hamlin during player introductions for the Bill-Bengals game
Damar Hamlin during player introductions for the Bill-Bengals game. Photo credit: Getty Images

Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin is talking to teammates ,after having his breathing tube removed.

The Bills say Hamlin was part of the team's Friday morning message, via video call.

"Damar Hamlin FaceTimed into our team meeting today to talk to players and coaches. What he said to the team: 'Love you boys'."

Hamlin, 24, is breathing on his own for the first time since going into cardiac arrest during the NFL game in Cincinnati. The Bills say Hamlin addressed the entire team via FaceTime.

Doctors at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center say Hamlin has made "substantial" progress, although he remained in intensive care, with his family by his side.

Dr Timothy Pritts and Dr William Knight of the University of Cincinnati Medical Center have made the first statement from doctors, detailing Hamlin's recovery, as well as the road ahead.

"We would like to share that there has been substantial improvement in his condition over the past 24 hours," said Dr Pritts. "We had significant concern about him after the injury and after the event on the field, and he is making substantial progress.

"As of this morning, he is beginning to awaken, and it appears that his neurological conditional and function is intact."

But Pritts says Hamlin "continues to be critically ill" and remains in the intensive care unit. 

Dr Knight notes that Hamlin has been on a "long and difficult road".

"He has been fairly sick and made a remarkable improvement. He's demonstrating signs of recovery and improvement."

Pritts notes that Hamlin woke Wednesday night and asked, via writing, whether the Bills won the game. The game was suspended.

Pritts says doctors responded to his question with the following: "The answer is yes. Damar, you won the game of life."

The NFL has announced that the Bills-Bengals game has been canceled.

Teammates react to Hamlin's collapse against Cincinnati
Teammates react to Hamlin's collapse against Cincinnati. Photo credit: Getty Images

Buffalo (12-3) returned to practice Thursday to prepare for Sunday's regular-season finale against visiting New England Patriots (8-8).

Hamlin recorded 91 tackles, 1.5 sacks and one forced fumble in 15 games (13 starts) during his second NFL season in 2022. The Bills drafted him in the sixth round out of Pitt in 2021.

On Friday, Hamlin was named the winner of the NFL Players Association's Week 18 Community MVP award.

The recognition comes with a $10,000 contribution to Hamlin's Chasing M's foundation, a toy drive that has received millions in donations since his collapse.

"On behalf of Damar Hamlin, we'd like to express our sincere gratitude and humility towards the NFLPA community for selecting Damar as a NFLPA Community MVP," Hamlin's family said.

"Damar holds firm that leadership is best displayed through servitude,and the community's generosity will allow Damar to continue serving those in need."