PHOENIX — Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin was named the NFLPA Alan Page Community Award winner Wednesday for his work raising more than $9 million for his Chasing M’s Foundation in the days after he collapsed on the field during a Jan. 2 games against the Cincinnati Bengals.
Hamlin took the stage with his parents during a news conference at the Phoenix Convention Center to accept the trophy that accompanied the award.
“Giving back to my community has always been a big part of who I am,” Hamlin said. “I’m thankful to my father, who’s right here behind me. Growing up, just watching him do community days in our community, and I just always was waiting on my time when it came.”
For winning the award, Hamlin’s foundation received a $100,000 donation.
“He is not only an individual who has overcome a tremendous amount, he’s not only a person who reminds us just how dangerous this game is, but also the spirit, the love, the joy, the fraternity of people who play this game,” said Demaurice Smith, NFLPA executive director.
The millions in donations went to the GoFundMe for Hamlin’s Chasing M’s Foundation, which initially had a goal of $2,500 that he set in December 2020 for a toy drive in his hometown of McKees Rocks, Pennsylvania, while he was still at the University of Pittsburgh.
Hamlin was dressed in a red suit, with a white dress shirt underneath with an open collar, and white sneakers. He walked to the podium followed by his parents, Mario and Nina, as a video of Alan Page congratulating Hamlin played in the background.
“One of my favorite quotes: It’s a blessing to be a blessing,” Hamlin said. “With that being said, I plan to never take this position for granted and always have an urgent approach in making a difference in the community where I come from and also communities across the world.”
Hamlin went into cardiac arrest in the first quarter of the Bills’ Week 17 game at Cincinnati. The game was postponed and ultimately cancelled. Hamlin stayed at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center for almost a week after the medical emergency. He then flew back to Buffalo, New York, and spent about two days at Buffalo General Medical Center/Gates Vascular Institute before being discharged Jan. 11.
During an appearance Wednesday on SiriusXM’s Doctor Radio program “Heart to Heart,” NFL Players Association Medical Director Thom Mayer was asked if Hamlin would ever play again.
Dr. Mayer replied, “I don’t want to get into HIPAA issues, but I guarantee you that Damar Hamlin will play professional football again.”
Smith, responding to Mayer’s comment, said in a statement to multiple outlets, “Damar’s recovery has been remarkable but any decision about his football future will be made by Damar and his family. Obviously, any decision and message about his return to football will come from him on his own time.”
ESPN’s Alaina Getzenberg contributed to this report.