Damar Hamlin Discusses ‘Remarkable’ Recovery and if He'll Return to Football

The Buffalo Bills player is finally opening up about his sudden collapse during a football game.

Buffalo Bills player Damar Hamlin is finally opening up about his sudden collapse during a football game -- and if he plans to return to the sport. 

In his first interview since the scary incident, the 24-year-old athlete sat down with Good Morning America co-anchor and former NFL pro, Michael Strahan, to talk about his "remarkable" recovery and whether he’ll be back on the field. 

"That just kind of put things in perspective for me, you know, hearing it from the doctor," Hamlin said. "Things could have went differently and the details of the situation of everything that happened on the field -- it could have been -- it could have been the last of me."

Hamlin said he remembers preparing for that Monday night game six weeks ago against the Cincinnati Bengals.

"I remember the things that we were focused on going into the game," Hamlin told Strahan. "Just trying to get a win."

With 5:58 left to go in the first quarter of the Bills' Week 17 game on Monday Night Football, Hamlin collided with Bengals wide receiver Tee Higgins as he tackled the Bengals star wide receiver. Hamlin immediately collapsed in the process of standing back up, prompting the Bills' assistant athletic trainer, Denny Kellington, to immediately begin performing cardiopulmonary resuscitation, or CPR, on Hamlin.

Hamlin was taken off the field by ambulance and went to UC Medical Center after receiving CPR and an automated external defibrillation (AED), where he remained in critical condition for an extended amount of time. The game was halted and never completed.

During the interview, Strahan pointed out that Kellington is the one who alerted everyone on the sidelines that Hamlin's medical condition was serious.

"I owe Denny my life," Hamlin said. "Literally. He loves to say he was just doing his job, which is true, you know? And that night, he was literally the savior of my life."

He added, "I'm truly thankful for and I don't take for granted."

Four days after his cardiac arrest episode, Hamlin woke up and was able to communicate with family and teammates.

Hamlin said he remembers waking up to his parents and friends, who were having conversations around him. The first question he asked via writing: "Did we win?"

Doctors replied, "Yes. You won the game of life," he said.

"When I saw that, I said, 'OK. He's an athlete. He's committed,'" Strahan said. "Cause you wake up and you're sittin' and you're going, 'Did we win?' Your mind is still on the game."

Hamlin replied, "I'm competitive, playing with my full heart and everything I've got in me. That competitive nature in me was just still just thinking about the game."

When asked what the doctors believe may have caused him to go into cardiac arrest, Hamlin declines to comment, adding tests are still ongoing. However, he does say he feels lucky to be alive. 

"I'm just thankful [God] gave me a second chance, you know, just to live normally and just come out almost without a scratch on me," Hamlin said. "Just to be able to keep going."

Last week, Thom Mayer, the medical director for the NFLPA, said on SiriusXM Doctor Radio's Heart to Heart show, "I guarantee you that Damar Hamlin will play professional football again.”

Physically, Hamlin said he is doing well and hopes to get back to playing football eventually, but told Strahan his emotional recovery will take longer.

"I'm still working through things," he said. "I'm still trying to process all the emotions and the trauma that comes from, you know, dealing with a situation like that and not really having people around or, you know, like, no one in my immediate circle who's dealt with something like that."

Rob Carr/Getty Images

In the meantime, Hamlin attended Sunday's Super Bowl LVII in Glendale, Arizona, where he got the chance to meet with the first responders who saved his life.