Bill Belichick's emotional speech as NFL coach discusses Damar Hamlin incident

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The NFL community has come together to support Damar Hamlin following his cardiac arrest on Monday (Image: Joshua Bessex/AP/REX/Shutterstock)
The NFL community has come together to support Damar Hamlin following his cardiac arrest on Monday (Image: Joshua Bessex/AP/REX/Shutterstock)

New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick was emotional as he discussed Damar Hamlin’s horrific incident ahead of his side’s clash with the Buffalo Bills on Sunday.

On Monday night, the crucial game between the Bills and Cincinnati Bengals was suspended amid a chilling scene following the injury of Buffalo safety Hamlin. The 24-year-old collapsed after making a tackle and had to be revived on the field before he was transferred to the University of Cincinnati hospital.

Hamlin had to be put into an artificial coma due to damage to his heart and his family reported that he is also suffering from some damage to his lungs. Following his collapse, there has been an outpour of support for Hamlin and his family.

The Bills are scheduled to face the Patriots in the final regular season match of the 2022 season this week, with New England chasing a spot in the playoffs while Buffalo hope to wrap up the first seed in the conference. Belichick is renowned for his stone-faced approach and muted conferences, but the NFL legend expressed genuine emotion when discussing Hamlin.

“On a personal level, I don't normally watch the Monday night game,” Belichick said in his press conference. “I might randomly flick through it or whatever. But because we're playing Buffalo on a short week I happened to have it on.

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“When I saw the situation it reminded me very much of what I experienced when I was with the Jets in 1997. We played the Lions in the last game of the year and Reggie Brown was injured. It was kind of a normal play, Adrian Brown carried the ball and was tackled, everyone got up, went back to the huddle, and Reggie layed on the floor and didn't move.

“He was unconscious for quite a while. Ten minutes or something like that. The whole process took a long time, maybe half an hour while he was given CPR and revived, and then put on the board and in the ambulance, driven off the field at the Superdome. That looked a lot like Monday night with the prayers, the kneeling and so forth. It was a very chilling game, one that I'll obviously never forget. I've been to a lot of games but if there's a moment that sticks out, that'll be one of them.

Bill Belichick's emotional speech as NFL coach discusses Damar Hamlin incidentDamar Hamlin is reportedly responding and awake, nearly three days after collapsing against the Cincinnati Bengals (Greg M Cooper/AP/REX/Shutterstock)

“Fortunately Reggie has done pretty well with the emergency surgery they did and the brace he wears he's not wheelchair-bound. A very tragic scene, one that - not that I have all the answers, because I certainly don't, but I was there and experienced that, and I have some sense of what the players and teams went through on Monday night. Like I said, you never forget it. Again, on a personal level that's where I was on that.

“I’ve reached out to a number of different people for different perspectives in our sport, in other sports, in our team, our players. I spoke to them on Tuesday and addressed it. I said all I can say and all I'm going to say is I think that everyone's doing the best they can, it can be on a lot of different levels, a lot of different perspectives, we're all doing the best we can. Everyone else is probably doing the same thing, from whatever perspective they have on it.

“Again, from talking to different people in this league or have experienced something like this, they're all different, I'm not saying anything is the same, but it's just a very... there's no easy answer to it. We just deal with it the best we can with the resources we have in this organisation for everything that will go along with us are available to all members of the organisation... I think that's the case with everyone I've talked to on other teams and their perspective too.”

Bill Belichick's emotional speech as NFL coach discusses Damar Hamlin incidentBill Belichick could lead the New England Patriots to the postseason despite the team's turbulent campaign (Michael Dwyer/AP/REX/Shutterstock)

The 70-year-old - and six-time Super Bowl champion - added: “Life's bigger than this game. That was a humbling moment for all of us that stands out. As a coach, it's different and I've expressed this to the players multiple times but the respect I have for them and what they do, how they do it, is immense. I'm proud to coach the players I've coached here and everywhere else. I respect them for what they do and how they do it.

“I always try to the best of my ability to prepare and coach the players, and we as an organisation, it's the coaching staff, not a personal thing, all of us, we try to do the same thing in terms of instructing players, instructing techniques, training, preparation to play in the best and safest way possible. I don't know what the results of that are, I don't know if that's prevented things. Hopefully it has. I know there are instances where things a certain player or a certain thing was happening was corrected as not being safe, the players recognised that.

“There's nothing more important than the health and safety of our players. I respect what they put into this, and as a coach that's not something I ever think about, I'm not gonna get hurt during a game. The players, it's different, they walk out there and put the equipment on there and it's a contact sport. What they and their families deal with as participants deal with is different to what I do as a coach, I respect that and appreciate that and try to do the best I can to make the right decisions and coach them in the best way I possibly can. I'll end it there.”

The Patriots are set to travel to Buffalo to face the Bills on Sunday.

Andrew Gamble

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