NFLPA medical director guarantees Damar Hamlin will play professional football again

The question of Damar Hamlin's future in the NFL has loomed since he went into life-threatening cardiac arrest on the field last month, but one notable person is optimistic about the Buffalo Bills safety's chances.

NFL Players Association medical director Dr. Thom Mayer guaranteed that Hamlin will play on an NFL field again when asked Wednesday by a caller during an appearance on SiriusXM's Doctor Radio:

"I don't want to get into HIPAA issues, but I guarantee you, I guarantee you, Veronica, that Damar Hamlin will play professional football again," he said.

The exact cause of Hamlin's cardiac arrest remains unknown publicly, but the basic facts are that he collapsed on the field Jan. 2 after tackling Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Tee Higgins. During the tackle, Higgins' shoulder made hard contact against Hamlin's chest.

Hamlin stood up after the tackle, then fell to the ground and remained motionless. He received immediate CPR and defibrillation from on-site medical personnel and eventually had his heartbeat restored. He was then rushed to nearby University of Cincinnati Medical Center, where he remained unconscious and on a ventilator for two days.

The 24-year-old Hamlin has steadily recovered since that terrifying night. He left Cincinnati on Jan. 9 and was back greeting his teammates within two weeks of his collapse. He has recovered enough that he was able to fly to Phoenix to take part in Super Bowl LVII activities, where he received the NFLPA’s Alan Page Community Award.

It has been stressed throughout this process that Hamlin has a long road to recovery ahead of him, but Mayer's comment might be the first time a person with medical knowledge and a direct connection to Hamlin has suggested that his road will lead to playing in the NFL again.

Hamlin, a sixth-round pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, had spent his career as a backup until early this season, when a season-ending neck injury to Pro Bowl safety Micah Hyde opened up a starting spot. Hamlin finished the season third on the Bills, with 91 total tackles, six tackles for loss, two passes defended, 1.5 sacks and 1 forced fumble.

Feb 8, 2023; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin accepts the Alan Page Community Award during the NFLPA press conference at the Phoenix Convention Center. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Will Damar Hamlin play in the NFL again? The NFLPA's top doctor likes his chances. (Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports)