The lowlight of the 2022 NFL season took place in Week 17, when the Buffalo Bills vs. Cincinnati Bengals Monday night matchup was canceled after Bills safety Damar Hamlin suffered cardiac arrest on the field. Hamlin was transported to the University of Cincinnati Medical Center via ambulance, where he was listed in critical condition for multiple days.
That lowlight quickly turned into a highlight, however, as Hamlin eventually recovered and was discharged from the hospital. Thursday night at the NFL Honors, Hamlin -- along with the team of doctors and assistants that helped save his life -- took the stage. The safety delivered powerful remarks about the journey he had been on, making it the must-see event of the evening.
Bills head coach Sean McDermott previously credited assistant athletic trainer Denny Kellington with being one of the key staff members that saved Hamlin's life, and he was rewarded Thursday night with an official fifth-place vote for NFL MVP.
Per the Associated Press, the vote came from ESPN's Suzy Kolber. She said that it was a "symbolic gesture representing 'everyone' who carries the weight of that job, every week. They rarely get the recognition they deserve."
CBS cameras catch John Brown giving his TD ball to Bills assistant athletic trainer Denny Kellington, who performed CPR on Damar Hamlin last Sunday. pic.twitter.com/b81tPaQelC— Awful Announcing (@awfulannouncing) January 8, 2023
While Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes officially won MVP, no vote carried more weight than the one Kellington received. Per Buffalo News, Kellington has been a member of the Bills since 2017 after a career at Syracuse.
"The journey will continue." ❤️💙— NFL (@NFL) February 10, 2023
An incredible moment as @HamlinIsland takes the stage at #NFLHonors. pic.twitter.com/TgqTKSAVKS
"Every day I'm amazed that my experiences encouraged so many others across the country and even across the world," Hamlin said on Thursday night. "Encouraged to pray, encouraged to spread love, and encouraged to keep fighting no matter the circumstances.
"Sudden cardiac arrest was nothing that I would have ever chosen to be a part of my story, but that's because sometimes our own visions are too small even when we think we're seeing the bigger picture. My vision was about playing in the NFL and being the best player that I could be, but God's plan was to have a purpose greater than any game in this world. My entire life, I felt like God was using me to give others hope. And now, with a new set of circumstances, I can only say he's doing what he's always done. I have a long journey ahead. A journey full of unknowns and a journey full of milestones, but it's a lot easier to face your fears when you know your purpose."