January 6, 2023 news on NFL star Damar Hamlin's condition

By Leinz Vales, Adrienne Vogt, Matt Meyer and Tori B. Powell, CNN

Updated 0110 GMT (0910 HKT) January 7, 2023
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8:08 p.m. ET, January 6, 2023

Our live coverage has wrapped up for the day. You can read more about Hamlin here.

7:15 p.m. ET, January 6, 2023

Here's what we know about Damar Hamlin's recovery

Damar Hamlin during the game between the Buffalo Bills and the Jacksonville Jaguars on November 7, 2021 at TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville, Florida.
Damar Hamlin during the game between the Buffalo Bills and the Jacksonville Jaguars on November 7, 2021 at TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville, Florida. (David Rosenblum/Icon Sportswire/Getty Images)

Friday brought more hopeful news about the recovery of hospitalized NFL player Damar Hamlin, who is no longer relying on a breathing tube, according to his medical team.

Here's what we've learned about the health of the Buffalo Bills safety, who remains in treatment at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center:

  • Hamlin is breathing on his own: The Bills said in a tweet that Hamlin's breathing tube was removed late Thursday or early Friday. Physicians said earlier this week that breathing on his own without a ventilator would be a critical step in his recovery.
  • Hamlin is talking with loved ones: Initially, Hamlin could only write messages to family members and doctors at his bedside (including to ask who won the game). But Hamlin was speaking Friday and catching up with friends by phone. He joined a Bills team meeting via FaceTime, giving a needed boost to his worried teammates.
  • The cause of his cardiac arrest is not yet clear: The doctors said tests are still underway to determine what caused the medical emergency and that there are no "definitive answers" at this time. Here's what to know about the differences between cardiac arrest, heart attack and heart failure.
  • Family and a team trainer are still at the hospital: Bills general manager Brandon Beane remained in Cincinnati until Tuesday night with Hamlin, and said an assistant athletic trainer is still at the medical center. Beane had powerful words in praise of the safety's parents, who he said left him "in awe" with their strength.
  • A long road ahead: Though Hamlin's medical team has called his recovery "remarkable" so far, they've also cautioned that there are many phases of treatment ahead before he's back at full strength.
5:14 p.m. ET, January 6, 2023

NFL announces series of actions to support Hamlin

The NFL on Friday announced a series of actions aimed at supporting Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin.

According to the NFL, each team across the league will have the opportunity to participate in the following actions during week 18:

  • Pregame shirts. All players will have the option of wearing T-shirts that read "Love for Damar 3" as they warm-up for games.
  • Moment of support. All 32 clubs are encouraged to read a public address distributed by the NFL before the national anthem "as a unified show of support for Damar, the first responders and medical caregivers," the NFL said. In the address, fans will be prompted to cheer for Hamlin and his family in a "moment of support."
  • Field paint. Both home and away clubs will have the opportunity to outline the number 3, which is Hamlin's jersey number for the Bills, for each of their football field's 30-yard line in the color of the Bills' red or blue team color, the NFL said.
4:47 p.m. ET, January 6, 2023

Buffalo Bills place Damar Hamlin on injured reserve list

From CNN's Jacob Lev

The Buffalo Bills have placed safety Damar Hamlin on the injured reserve list, the team announced Friday.

The move effectively ends Hamlin's season after he suffered a cardiac arrest during the team's Monday night game against the Cincinnati Bengals. 

Being placed on the injured reserve list means a player cannot play for at least four games.

The Bills also announced on Friday they have activated cornerback Christian Benford. 

3:45 p.m. ET, January 6, 2023

NFL's Roger Goodell is "grateful for and humbled" by all who helped Damar Hamlin

From CNN's David Close

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, speaking for the first time since Buffalo Bills' safety Damar Hamlin was injured on Monday night, said Hamlin's improving health has "lifted not only my spirits but the spirits of the entire league."

Goodell was an unannounced speaker at a media availability with the NFL's Competition Committee on Friday to discuss the league owners approving an unprecedented post-season plan following the cancellation of Monday night's Buffalo Bills-Cincinnati Bengals game. 

“I am grateful for and humbled by all who played a role as Damar (Hamlin) continues on his road to recovery," Goodell said. "Extraordinary situations bring out the extraordinary people."

“I know this was a trying week for everyone including those on this Zoom [call]. Thank you for doing what you do as we head into our last weekend of the regular season," Goodell said in closing remarks to reporters on Friday.

3:00 p.m. ET, January 6, 2023

NFL owners approve unique neutral site playoff arrangement due to Bills-Bengals cancellation

From CNN's David Close

The NFL owners have approved an unprecedented postseason plan following the cancellation of Monday night's Buffalo Bills-Cincinnati Bengals game.

The league held a special virtual meeting with all 32 team owners or their designee on Friday to determine possible playoff scenarios now that two teams, the Bills and Bengals, will have played fewer regular season games than the rest of the league.

The NFL owners approved the unique plan to host the AFC Championship game at a neutral site if the participating teams played an unequal number of games and both teams could have been a potential top seed if the Bills-Bengals game had been played to its conclusion.

The owners also approved a plan to use a coin flip to determine the home field for a possible Wild Card round game between the Bengals and Baltimore Ravens.

The scenarios vote needed at least 24 of the 32 owners to approve the resolutions to pass.

3:19 p.m. ET, January 6, 2023

Buffalo Bills player Dion Dawkins says hearing Hamlin speak "was all we needed"

From CNN's Kevin Dotson

Buffalo Bills offensive tackle Dion Dawkins after a game against the Tennessee Titans at Highmark Stadium on September 19, in Orchard Park, New York.
Buffalo Bills offensive tackle Dion Dawkins after a game against the Tennessee Titans at Highmark Stadium on September 19, in Orchard Park, New York. (Timothy T Ludwig/Getty Images)

Buffalo Bills offensive tackle Dion Dawkins could barely contain his excitement when he was asked what it was like for the team to see Damar Hamlin again on a video call Friday morning.

“We got our boy, man!!! That’s all that matters! We got our boy!” an excited Dawkins said Friday afternoon in a call with reporters. “The excitement was beautiful, it was amazing. It has given us so much energy, so much bright, high spirits, whatever you want to call it, it has given it to us to see that boy’s face. To see him smile, to see him go like this (flexes biceps) in the camera, it was everything."

“And then to hear him talk to us, it was everything, and that’s what we needed. Literally, that’s all we needed.”

Dawkins described the past week’s emotions as “a rollercoaster, but a rollercoaster that’s never been ridden.”

"You really go from the saddest you can really feel to the happiest you can feel in a short, drastic time," Dawkins said. "The saddest is the saddest of the sad where you really don't know what to do."

“It’s far from over, but the good thing about it is it’s a positive energy for whatever rollercoaster you want to call it," he continued. "We’re on a positive ride right now, where we got to see our guy, and we got to see #3 (Hamlin) smile and that’s literally all we wanted, you know? He’s here with us, and that’s all we can ask for is that he’s taking steps forward."

“It’s still very emotional for a lot of guys, and we’re happy, we’re blessed and extremely thankful," Dawkins added.

When asked about Hamlin's toy drive foundation going over $7 million in donations, Dawkins responded with an emphatic: "It's super lit!"

Editor's note: This post has been updated with the correct byline.

2:28 p.m. ET, January 6, 2023

"What would you want someone to do for your son?" Bills GM describes staying in Cincinnati with Hamlin

Buffalo Bills general manager Brandon Beane answers questions from the media during the NFL Scouting Combine on March 1, at the Indiana Convention Center in Indianapolis, Indiana.
Buffalo Bills general manager Brandon Beane answers questions from the media during the NFL Scouting Combine on March 1, at the Indiana Convention Center in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire/Getty Images)

Buffalo Bills general manager Brandon Beane, who remained in Cincinnati until Tuesday night with Damar Hamlin, said he had simple reasoning for staying behind.

“What would you want someone to do for your son?” said Beane, who has two boys himself. 

Beane said he and head coach Sean McDermott decided Monday night that the general manager would stay in Cincinnati while McDermott would stay with the team.

Beane said the coach wanted to stay with Hamlin as well, but the two leaders had only minutes to decide and opted to divide up leadership duties. McDermott needed to lead the coaches and team because they didn’t know how long the hospitalization would last, the general manager explained.

Beane said he learned more about Hamlin through time spent with his family and friends, especially the safety's parents.

“Mario and Nina (Hamlin), just being near them these last few days, they should put a handbook together on how to deal with a life-threatening situation with your child,” Beane said Friday. “I was in awe just watching their strength through such difficult up and down moments, and it was a pleasure to be a part and to see how they handled it. I don’t believe I would have handled it with the same strength if that was my son.”

He also said he was impressed with the medical team, including their bedside manner — providing hugs and also having tears in their eyes.

Beane, who is now back in Orchard Park, New York, said he was sad he wouldn’t be there when Hamlin walks out of the hospital.

He later added that he will “forever remember this team” and that he’s not sure if he’ll ever be more proud of a team than this one.

12:21 p.m. ET, January 6, 2023

Bills general manager praises league-wide support for Damar Hamlin: "The NFL is a true family"

From CNN's Kevin Dotson

Buffalo Bills General Manager Brandon Beane voiced his appreciation Friday for the support from across the NFL community over the past week in the wake of the life-threatening injury to safety Damar Hamlin.

"I think, as I mentioned earlier, it says a lot about our league that we're all competitive and we're all trying to win every single thing, trying to win the draft, trying to win games, and ultimately trying to a championship fighting against each other,” Beane said. “This week every team changed their logo on their social media page to pray for Damar, I don't think I've ever seen that."

"And, yeah we go to battle, but in the end life is the number-one battle, and to see that unity from players, coaches, GMs, owners, fans is unheard of. But I think it's a good light, it sheds a great light on the NFL. The NFL is truly a family," he added.

Beane also gave a preview of the team’s plans for Sunday’s game against the Patriots.

“As far as this weekend, we’re working on things. We definitely have the (jersey) patch, and try and honor some of the people that helped keep Damar alive and their roles. We do have some various things, we’re still talking through the exactly run of show, but I think it’s going to be a nice deal,” he said, making a reference to the Bills wearing jerseys with patches of Hamlin's number on them.