Damar Hamlin remains center stage of key Bills-Pats matchup

When the host Buffalo Bills and New England Patriots meet on Sunday in Orchard Park, N.Y., whatever happens between the hash marks will be the last thing many players, coaches and fans care about.Damar Hamlin, the 24-year-old Bills safety who went into cardiac arrest during Buffalo’s game against the Cincinnati Bengals on Monday night, will be at the forefront of hearts and minds.Good news came Thursday when Buffalo announced that Hamlin has shown “remarkable improvement” and “appears to be neurologically intact” despite remaining in critical condition.”He’s a beautiful, unique soul,” Bills offensive tackle Dion Dawkins said of Hamlin while wearing a hat with the logo of Hamlin’s Chasing M’s Foundation, which has now raised over $7 million for a toy drive. “He’s a true person.”Every team across the league has been offering their support, too, and the Patriots (8-8) were no exception.New England owner Robert Kraft and the team donated to Hamlin’s charity, and several players took to social media to offer their well wishes to Hamlin and his family.”It seemed like the care that was given was very prompt and good, and thankful for that,” Patriots coach Bill Belichick said. “Life’s bigger than this game. This is one of these humbling moments for all of us that stands out.”While a date to resume the Bills-Bengals game — if it is at all — hasn’t been announced by the league yet, Bills head coach Sean McDermott all but confirmed his players are ready to play football on Sunday.McDermott said Thursday that Mario Hamlin, Damar’s father, told Bills players to focus on Sunday’s regular-season finale because it is what Damar Hamlin would want.And there’s a lot on the line for both teams.For the Patriots? Win and they’re in.

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