Bills legend Andre Reed knows ‘resilient’ Buffalo community will rally for Damar Hamlin

NFL Hall of Fame wide receiver Andre Reed spoke to his mother Tuesday morning. She knew all about what happened to safety Damar Hamlin on Monday night and immediately thought about her son. 

“It hit her because she thought about me every game — something happening,” Reed told Fox News Digital Tuesday. “As a player, you don’t think about that. You’re out there because that’s your job.”

Yes, football players know “there’s a risk that they’re taking,” as Reed put it, every time they strap on a helmet.

Still, the Bills, Cincinnati Bengals and everyone else who watched Hamlin collapse due to a cardiac arrest didn’t anticipate anything of that magnitude happening on the field. 

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Andre Reed attends the launch of Actors and Athletes: Unions for Democracy at Jean-Georges Beverly Hills July 17, 2022, in Beverly Hills, Calif. 

Andre Reed attends the launch of Actors and Athletes: Unions for Democracy at Jean-Georges Beverly Hills July 17, 2022, in Beverly Hills, Calif. 
(Leon Bennett/Getty Images)

“I’ve seen guys get carted off with knee injuries and all the things you see in football,” Reed explained. “Now it’s concussions, they walk off. Knee injuries and ankles and hamstrings and whatever it is. I didn’t know what was happening until they showed both teams, and some of the guys started crying. 

“It’s hard to get a grown man to cry, period. But it’s even harder to get 45, 90 grown men crying to a certain point on national TV in a sport that’s not known for crying other than when you win or lose. I knew it was something other than that.”

Reed admitted that he didn’t really think anything of the hit by Bengals wide receiver Tee Higgins, who lowered his shoulder into Hamlin before both of them tumbled to the turf. 

“I got hit way worse than that,” Reed said.

After getting up, though, Hamlin collapsed. Medical teams from both staffs rushed to help him and ended up having to restore his heartbeat prior to getting him into an ambulance headed for University of Cincinnati Medical Center’s ICU. 

Damar Hamlin of the Buffalo Bills walks to the tunnel during halftime against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Highmark Stadium Oct. 9, 2022, in Orchard Park, N.Y. 

Damar Hamlin of the Buffalo Bills walks to the tunnel during halftime against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Highmark Stadium Oct. 9, 2022, in Orchard Park, N.Y. 
(Bryan Bennett/Getty Images)

Like many who have ties to Buffalo, Tuesday was a hard day for Reed. He and many others were trying to process what happened the night before, yet Reed understands how resilient the Buffalo community can be. 

As Reed mentioned, it’s been a rough year for Buffalo, which has dealt with a mass shooting and two recent snowstorms that claimed lives. Now, to start the new year, adversity strikes again. 

But Reed knows “Buffalonians” are going to stay strong for Hamlin and his family. 

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“If any community can come together and be the way they are, it’s that community. That community is some of the strongest, resilient people I’ve ever met in my life,” he said. 

One prime example of that is the wave of support to Hamlin’s foundation, Chasing M’s, which has seen an enormous jolt of donations from not just Buffalo, but people around the country doing whatever they can to help out. 

Andre Reed arrives at the 22nd Annual Harold and Carole Pump Foundation Gala at The Beverly Hilton Aug. 19, 2022, in Beverly Hills, Calif.

Andre Reed arrives at the 22nd Annual Harold and Carole Pump Foundation Gala at The Beverly Hilton Aug. 19, 2022, in Beverly Hills, Calif.
(Tiffany Rose/Getty Images for Harold & Carole Pump Foundation)

At the time of this article, the GoFundMe Page for the charity is nearly at $5.5 million. And there’s been support from fellow NFL players, like Denver Broncos quarterback Russell Wilson, who donated $10,000 along with his wife, Ciara. Tom Brady, the Washington Commanders and many more sent donations. 

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New Orleans Saints quarterback Andy Dalton also contributed $3,000, and Reed pointed out how the Buffalo community donated to his charity in 2017 after his Bengals defeated the Baltimore Ravens to punch the Bills’ ticket into the playoffs.

That’s the type of community Reed wants to help and highlight in this trying time, and he knows the Bills are going to need all the support they can get. 

“Communities are the meat and potatoes of who we are. That’s why guys go back into their community and give back,” Reed said. “Damar Hamlin did something great. They realized he was doing something good.”

Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin warms up before a game against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field. 

Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin warms up before a game against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field. 
(Lon Horwedel/USA Today Sports)

The NFL season will go on, though the league hasn’t decided exactly how to move forward with the Bills-Bengals Week 17 matchup postponed. Buffalo already earned a playoff spot, winning the AFC East title. 

But it’s going to be tough to move on, presumably without Hamlin on the field, and considering no one is aware of his true status. 

“They’re just trying to put this all together and figure out themselves. There’s some mental stuff going on. People don’t realize mental awareness has become a big part of sports over the past couple of years, and some of these guys might need some talking to. They’re grown men, but we’re not perfect. We need some help,” Reed said. 

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If there is one person who can lead the Bills through this, it’s head coach Sean McDermott, at least in Reed’s eyes. 

Damar Hamlin (3) of the Buffalo Bills reacts after a tackle for a loss against the Pittsburgh Steelers during the first quarter at Highmark Stadium Oct. 9, 2022, in Orchard Park, N.Y.

Damar Hamlin (3) of the Buffalo Bills reacts after a tackle for a loss against the Pittsburgh Steelers during the first quarter at Highmark Stadium Oct. 9, 2022, in Orchard Park, N.Y.
(Bryan M. Bennett/Getty Images)

“I know he had a meeting this morning about what’s going to happen if he even knows,” said Reed. “The league hasn’t put anything out yet. He’s really in tune with his players, and they’ve been through a lot this year.

“I think Sean, not only is he a great coach, he’s done such a great job for five years of getting this team to where they need to be.”

Hamlin is showing signs of improvement, according to his uncle, Dorrian Glenn. He told NFL Network Tuesday night Hamlin remains in intensive care but has improved to 50% oxygen on a ventilator when he previously had been on 100%.

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The 24-year-old remains sedated. 

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