The journey and subsequent recovery of Damar Hamlin has been one of the biggest stories of the NFL in recent years. Hamlin suffered a heart attack in the Buffalo Bills 2022 Week 17 game against the Cincinnati Bengals but was saved with the help of on-field CPR and treatment. In miraculous form, Hamlin returned for the Bills in Week 4 of the 2023 season, playing five regular-season games.

For much of the season prior, Hamlin was the favorite to win the NFL’s Comeback Player of the Year award, but he fell short in the voting for quarterback Joe Flacco and his return with the Cleveland Browns. Hamlin was asked about not winning the prize on a recent show appearance, but in stating his support for Flacco during the award ceremony, he said his journey “wasn’t something a trophy can define.”

“I heard some people were in an uproar. I did at first, I’m not gonna lie. I did, a little bit, just because you know I’m a competitor myself, Hamlin said. Any competition you put me in, I want to win. I clapped for Joe as he went on stage and clapped for him as he went off. . . . It wasn’t something that a trophy can define.

Hamlin’s on-field collapse, along with his recovery and eventual return to play, captured the attention of the entire NFL world. Despite his return to the Bills in never-before-seen form, Hamlin’s limited stats were a big reason he ended up losing the award.

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He played 111 snaps and only two tackles on the year and missed a key fourth-down conversion for Buffalo in the playoffs. Flacco, instead, gave his career a late boost as he played the last five regular-season games with the Browns, throwing for 1,616 yards and 13 touchdowns while helping the team make the playoffs.

I truly feel with my journey, my comeback per se, it wasn’t a worldly thing. It wasn’t something that a trophy can define, Hamlin said. “God gave me his trophy of still waking up every day, still living, still breathing. Having a healthy life. Having a healthy family. Being blessed with every opportunity I’m placed in right now.

Hamlin was a sixth-round pick from the Bills in 2021 and is under contract with the team for the remainder of the year.

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