The NFLPA’s medical director guaranteed Wednesday that Damar Hamlin will eventually return to professional football. The Bills player has been recovering from a cardiac event he suffered five weeks ago during a game against the Cincinnati Bengals.

In the immediate aftermath of the incident, concern about Hamlin’s potential NFL future was a distant second priority as he fought for his life in the University of Cincinatti Medical Center. Hamlin had to be resuscitated on the field and in the hospital as he struggled to breathe on his own. Now, he is in rehabilitation and is expected to make a full recovery.

“I guarantee you that Damar Hamlin will play professional football again,” Dr. Thom Mayer, the NFLPA medical director, said on the “Heart to Heart” podcast.

Shortly before Hamlin’s most recent medical update, the Bills safety made one of his first public appearances Wednesday, delivering a surprise acceptance speech for the NFLPA’s Alan Page Community Award at a Super Bowl event. The award was given to Hamlin for contributions he has made to his community.

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“Being recognized for the NFLPA Alan Page Community Award is humbling and a dream come true,” Hamlin said. “I’m humbled to even be mentioned amongst those guys. I’ve always wanted to impact my community and show that it’s possible to do great things. With this award, we’ll be able to impact even more people and keep this mission going.”

Following his collapse on the field, countless fans discovered his online toy drive, which aimed to raise $2,500 to purchase toys for children impacted by the pandemic. As of Feb. 9, the drive has raised more than $9 million.

“One of my favorite quotes: ‘it’s a blessing to be a blessing,'” Hamlin said. “What that means is saying never take this position for granted and always have an urgent approach in making a difference in the community where I come from and also communities across the world. Thank you.”

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