This weekend’s NFL action marks the first time teams have been on the field since Damar Hamlin went into cardiac arrest during a Jan. 2 game.
In recognition of that fact, players and broadcasters participating in Week 18 games wore special shirts, took part in prayers and held moments of support for the Buffalo Bills safety who remains hospitalized in Cincinnati.
ESPN even flipped the “E” on its crew’s microphones so that it looked like a “3” — Hamlin’s jersey number — instead.
Hamlin thanked everyone for their ongoing support in a Saturday Instagram post.
“When you put real love out into the world it comes back to you 3x’s as much,” he said. “The Love has been overwhelming, but I’m thankful for every single person that prayed for me and reached out. We brung the world back together behind this. If you know me you know this only gone make me stronger. On a long road keep praying for me!”
Here’s a look at the many ways the league honored Hamlin this weekend:
Kansas City Chiefs vs. Las Vegas Raiders
- Raiders and Chiefs players wore special t-shirts during warmups carrying messages like “Love for Damar.”
- The Raiders, who hosted the game, asked the crowd to cheer for Hamlin and his family during “a moment of support and love” before kickoff.
Tennessee Titans vs. Jacksonville Jaguars
- Titans and Jaguars players and coaches met at midfield before the game to pray for Hamlin’s ongoing recovery.
Buffalo Bills vs. New England Patriots
- Bills players and coaches are wearing a “3” patch on their jerseys and sweatshirts Sunday in honor of Hamlin, who is watching the game from his hospital bed.
- The Bills led a moment of support for Hamlin just before kickoff.
- Bills running back Nyheim Hines scored for the Bills on the opening kickoff. (Although the touchdown wasn’t planned, announcers referred to it as a “storybook” situation.)
Indianapolis Colts vs. Houston Texans
- Indianapolis Colts safety Rodney Thomas, who played high school football with Hamlin in Pittsburgh, kneeled by the 30-yard-line marker Sunday and made a heart shape with his hands after nabbing an interception.
Denver Broncos vs. Los Angeles Chargers
- Denver Broncos quarterback Russell Wilson and Los Angeles Chargers safety Derwin James, who wear jersey number “3” for their respective teams, met at midfield to pray before the game as their teammates locked arms behind them.